'We don't blame driver', say crash victim's parents

'We don't blame driver', say crash victim's parents

The young driver of an overloaded car which was involved in Ireland’s worst road accident should not be blamed, the parents of one of the crash victims said this afternoon.

Eamonn and Claire Sweeney told mourners at their son Ciaran’s funeral they would welcome the family of critically-ill Sean Kelly into their home.

Eight people died instantly on Sunday, including Mr Kelly’s seven passengers.

His car collided head-on with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction in Co Donegal. They sheared a telegraph pole in two and landed in a ditch near Buncrana. Mr Kelly was the only survivor.

Today, three other victims were also buried as the shattered rural community grieved. They were Damien McLaughlin, 21, Paul Doherty, 19, and Eamonn McDaid, 22.

Mr Sweeney said: “Claire, Rory, Owen, Orla and myself want it to be made perfectly clear that we don’t hold (responsible) or blame Sean or anyone else in any way for the loss of our beautiful son and brother.

“The Kelly family will always be welcomed into our home with open arms.”

The young men were travelling to Buncrana after watching the World Cup final in Clonmany on Sunday night.

Mr Kelly’s Volkswagen Passat struck another car and then smashed into pensioner Hugh Friel’s car. Mr Friel, 66, was returning from a successful night at bingo in Buncrana.

Mr Sweeney’s funeral was held at St Mary’s Church in Clonmany, close to the 19-year-old’s Ballyliffin home.

His father added: “Ciaran gave us almost 20 years of love and happiness. Our memories of Ciaran are all good years. We could not have been any more proud of our son.”

He said they were glad he had found love with his partner, Sean Kelly’s sister Catherine Ann Kelly, and could not have met a nicer girl.

Mr McDaid, from Ballymagan, Buncrana, was buried in the same graveyard at St Mary’s Cockhill, Buncrana, as four of five victims of a road accident at nearby Quigley’s Point in 2005.

Mourners were led by his devastated parents, Seamus and Martha, brothers Martin, Sean, Liam and James, and girlfriend Yvonne.

A spanner was placed at the altar, reflecting his work as a mechanic and carpenter, along with a number 11 Illies Celtic Football Club jersey and a photo of a smiling Mr McDaid in a shirt and red tie.

Parish priest Father John Walsh said: “He was a loving son and an affectionate brother.

“A bubbly character, wild for craic, as they would say, he was the life and soul of every party.”

He said his laugh and smile were infectious, and he was full of smart comments.

But he had words of warning for other young people.

“When I was your age, I too felt indestructible. But none of us is,” the parish priest said.

“That’s a plain fact of life. So please, please, please live life on its terms, within its rules and boundaries, otherwise life will be cruel and merciless towards you and towards the family and friends who will have to bear you to the grave.”

Truck driver and welder Mr Doherty was buried on his 20th birthday in the same graveyard as Mr Sweeney.

Father Fintan Diggin said: “All the energy and joie de vivre were very much part of his life.

“Paul was a hard-working young man, he was a wage earner making his contribution to society.”

A model of an earth-mover along with a spanner and a boilersuit were placed at the front of St Mary’s Church, Clonmany, in recognition of his work.

The coffin was wheeled in by his family, including his three younger brothers. Stephen Mark and Garry. and sister Caroline after being brought from his home in nearby Ballyliffin.

Yesterday, Patrick “PJ” McLaughlin and Mark McLaughlin, both 21, and Mr Friel were buried after funeral Masses. The pensioner’s family has also called for forgiveness and prayer.

Tomorrow, James McEleney, 23, who lived just yards from the scene of the accident, will be buried.

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