Letter from Pope Francis read at funeral for Carrickmines victims

Pope Francis has expressed his "deep sadness" for the victims of the Carrickmines fire.

A letter from the pontiff was read at the funeral of five of the victims, which was taking place in Bray, Co Wicklow today.

The letter, read towards the end of the service, stated: “Pope Francis, having learned of the horrific fire in Carrickmines, expresses his deep sadness over this terrible tragedy.

“The Holy Father prays especially for those who have died, and he wishes to assure all their family members, their friends, and the whole Traveller community, of his spiritual closeness and sympathy at this very difficult time.”

Large crowds of people from Ireland and Great Britain lined the streets of Bray for the funeral.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide de camp Colonel Michael Kiernan - with the Taoiseach represented by Commandant David Foley. Tánaiste Joan Burton represented the Government.

A cortège of five hearses and 10 limousines were escorted from Murphy's Funeral Home to the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in Bray for the funeral.

They carried the bodies of 25-year-old Willie Lynch; his 27-year-old partner Tara - who was pregnant at the time of her death; their two girls 4-year-old Kelsey and 9-year-old Jodie; and Willie’s brother, 39-year-old Jimmy.

They are the first five victims of the Carrickmines Fire to be mourned at a funeral Mass.

The Parish Priest of the Travelling People Fr Derek Farrell said that Ireland was saddened by the tragedy.

"I awoke to the early morning news last Saturday week hoping I was just waking from a bad dream, but quickly realising that I was waking to an enormous unfolding tragedy, that was all too real," he said.

"Saturday, the 10th of October, 2015, will forever be remembered as a horrific and tragic day in the history of our country."

Fr Farrell said that he hopes the outpouring of support from across the country would have a lasting impact in relations between the travelling and settled communities.

He pointed to Tara and Willie as an example of the love that can thrive between the two communities.

"A unity, perhaps no more poignantly and particularly embodied than in the loving relationship of Tara, as a young, settled woman, and Willie, as a young Traveller man, and the family they together established so beautifully."

The five will be buried at Springfield Cemetery after today’s service.

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