Belfast Telegraph

Widow of fireman killed in action says NIFRS apology 'means nothing'

The widow of a fireman who was killed on duty battling a blaze at a hotel in Co Londonderry has said that an apology from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) "doesn't mean anything".

Joe McCloskey, from Dungiven, fell when the roof of an outbuilding at the Gorteen Hotel in Limavady collapsed on Halloween night 2003.

The father-of-five was rescued from the building but died in Altnagelvin Hospital with his wife Marie at his side.

Mrs McCloskey has said that she received a letter from Northern Ireland's Chief Fire Officer offering a full apology to the family for Mr McCloskey's death.

"The letter to me personally doesn't mean anything," she told the BBC.

"I know for the sake of the children and my grandchildren it will, but it's sad that we have had to fight for 15 years to find out what happened to Joe."

"I don't see any respect for Joe in anything the fire service has done."

The family launched a campaign to be told the name of the officer who order Joe onto the hotel roof. But while admitting negligence, fire chiefs consistently refused to confirm the identity of the man who gave the order.

The family was finally told the name of the officer in 2014 following an Attorney General investigation.

However nobody was ever disciplined over Mr McCloskey's death, despite fire service and police investigations.

"I never want to hear Joe's name in the same sentence as the fire service, because they have shown no respect," Mrs McCloskey said.

"All we wanted to know after we got their statements and the inquest, we asked who gave the order and we're still asking to this day, the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle, but we want the fire service actually to come out and answer.

"Joe was the rock and foundation of this home, it has deprived me of, Joe used to laugh and say our golden years, there's things we had planned to do which we'll never do.

"I'm lost without him."

The NIFRS has confirmed it contacted Mrs McCloskey in May.

It told the BBC it offered "an unreserved apology, for failings following the death of leading firefighter Joe McCloskey who tragically lost his life in the line of duty at an incident at the Gorteen House Hotel in Limavady in 2003".

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