An 11-year-old girl is today recovering after heroically saving the life of her infant cousin during what is believed to have been a petrol bomb attack on their grandmother's Waterford home around 9.20pm yesterday.
When a petrol bomb was thrown in their sitting room window in Ardmore Park, Roisin Halligan threw herself on top of one-year-old Lexi, protecting her from the blast.
The children both suffered serious burn injuries which are not thought to be life threatening. Roisin was transferred to Cork University Hospital overnight for specialist treatment.
11-year-old Roisin Halligan. All pictures Patrick Browne
There were at least two other children, including a three-month-old baby, in the house at the time of the attack.
Three-month-old William Halligan is being treated for smoke-inhalation.
It is understood a petrol bomb was thrown through the sitting-room window of the house, causing widespread damage to the room.
Baby William Halligan
The children’s grandmother Nellie Halligan was able to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher before the damage became any worse.
“Roisin saw Lexie on fire and threw herself on Lexie to put out the fire,” the girls’ aunt Linda said today. “Roisin is very badly burnt.”
The front window of the Halligan home where the peterol bomb was thrown through
Nellie Halligan said she was in her kitchen at the time of the incident and heard another of her daughters running down the stairs, screaming.
“Roisin was saving the baby, but got the full blast,” a shaken Mrs Halligan said at her home on Friday.
“I always have an extinguisher alongside me, since the threats started coming out. I put out the biggest part of the fire and started shouting to the girls, ‘will you get wet towels’… I had to do something. Thanks be to God and his holy blessed mother for giving me the strength.”
“The house isn’t bothering me. You can fix the house up, but you can’t fix the children up. As far as I know, Roisin is badly burnt, God love her. I done my best, otherwise the whole house was gone.”
The damage to grandmother Nellie Halligan’s front room
She said she was “not too bad”, but worried about her grandchildren. Roisin’s mother Sabrina, Lexie’s mother Anne-Maria and William’s mother Ellen were all with their children yesterday as they received hospital treatment.
Mrs Halligan had 16 children in all, but three sons passed away in recent years.
A daughter, Danielle, said that the family have been targetted for intimidation through no fault of their own.
“My sister rang me last night [about the fire]. It was Sabrina, she was shocked,” said Danielle. “I thought she was messing at first… I went straight over to my mother’s. They’re all distressed and worried, as you’d expect them to be.”
Lexie Halligan had just returned from Cork University Hospital earlier on Thursday, after having a procedure.
One-year-old Lexi Halligan
“Everything is destroyed, everything is burnt,” Danielle said in relation to her mother’s sitting-room.
“Only for my mother got the fire extinguisher and put out the fire herself…”
She said a local gang is terrorising people in the area. “It’s horrible, you’re living in fear every day, worrying about what is going to happen.”
Gardaí in Waterford are appealing for witnesses to the attack at a house in Ballybeg last night.
A 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.
He is being questioned at Waterford Garda Station.
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact them at Waterford Garda Station on 051 305300, the Garda Confidential Line 1800-666111 or any Garda Station.
- Reporting by Shaun Cronin, Denise O'Donoghue and Conor Kane