Belfast Telegraph

Australia tragedy: Two families left heartbroken

Editor's Viewpoint

Two young men who, like so many before them over the generations, had left Northern Ireland to find a bit of adventure and possibly make their fortunes have instead had their lives cruelly cut short in a tragic accident on a building site in Perth, Western Australia.

Poignantly, one of them, 24-year-old Joe McDermott, had only left his Omagh home a few weeks ago for a new life down under.

Now his parents and the relatives of the other man, 27-year-old Gerard Bradley, have received the worst possible news.

Only those who have taken such a heart-stopping phone call about the death of a loved one can even begin to understand how those families are feeling today.

No doubt there was a little trepidation in the families' minds when their young men left, but they would have been hoping that their prospects were better there, especially given the slump and declining job prospects in the construction industry here in recent years.

Today, however, they are left to reflect on how fate has dealt them a terrible hand.

From the accounts of the families and from the comments of the men's friends on social media, these were two very well-regarded people, the sort of young men that any family would be proud to call their own.

As Gerard's brother said, he was a man who no one had a bad word about.

How bleak Christmas will now feel in the homes of all the relatives of the two deceased. Of course, friends and their local communities will rally around and offer their condolences and whatever help they can. But nobody will be able to remove the wrenching grief, the sense of loss or the aching void that will be in the hearts of those closest to the men.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, an investigation is under way into how the accident occurred.

The authorities will be keen to find out if this was just a mishap that could not have been foreseen or if there was any laxity in safety regulations on the building site. There are conflicting messages coming out from the firm involved and from one of the construction workers' unions, which can only add another dimension to the grief of the families.

Ultimately, how and why the accident occurred will be important, but what the findings cannot do is bring back those lost lives. Two young men, much loved by many and trying to make a better life for themselves, died in that quest, and that simply is a tragedy.

Belfast Telegraph


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