Thomond Bridge: Families unlikely to get report into men’s deaths

TJ Herlihy and Bryan Whelan

The Health and Safety Authority’s special investigations unit is proceeding with a major inquiry into the deaths last Saturday of two men carrying out work on Thomond Bridge in Limerick. However, it is unlikely their families will get a copy of the final report into the accident.

Under current practice, reports are not made public and are only given to the HSA’s internal legal department and to the office of the DPP. While families are kept informed on the progress of HSA investigations, they usually do not get copies of the reports into fatalities involving loved one.

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TJ Herlihy aged 36, from Castleisland, Co Kerry and Brian Whelan, aged 29, from O’Briensbridge, Co Clare died when they got trapped under water after a cage-type platform they working from snapped from the crane to which it was attached. Paul Murphy, aged 36, who lives at Ballysteen, Co Limerick survived after he managed to free himself from the harness which attached the men to the cage.

While gardaí have carried an examination of the scene, Superintendent Derek Smart of Henry Street, said the HSA is the lead authority in the investigation and all garda expert assistance requested by the HSA will be given. This could include the examination of equipment at the garda forensic lab in Dublin.

Thomond Bridge: Families unlikely to get report into men’s deaths

A note on on Thomond Bridge, remembering Bryan Whelan.

Inspectors from the HSA special investigations unit have now started gathering information for their report.

A spokesman for the HSA said yesterday: “There is no time-scale for this investigation.” He said that when a report is concluded, it will be handed to the HSA’s internal legal department who will then forward a report to the DPP as happens in respect of all accidents they investigate. However, these reports are not made public, and certain information in them is not available under the Freedom of Information Act, but details can emerge at inquests held by coroners’ courts.

Thomond Bridge: Families unlikely to get report into men’s deaths

Lifting the cage that was central to the double tragedy.

The families of the men who died will be kept informed on the progress of the investigation by the HSA.

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