The outcome of a probe into the deaths of two workers who drowned when carrying out repairs on Thomond Bridge in Limerick will determine whether gardaí will launch an inquiry.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has taken possession of the crane, cage, and all other equipment used on site where TJ Herlihy, 36, from Castleisland, Co Kerry and Bryan Whelan, 29, from O’Briensbridge, Co Clare, perished on Saturday.
TJ Herlihy and Bryan Whelan
Mr Whelan will be laid to rest after 12pm Mass at St Mary’s Church, Kilbane, Broadford, today.
The accident occurred when a cable, attached to a crane, gave way and the cage plunged into the water.
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Paul Murphy, who was in the cage when it crashed into the river, managed to free himself from a harness and make his way to safety.
Contract company Irish Bridge from Ballyengland, Askeaton, Co Limerick — undertaking essential repair works on Thomond Bridge — said: “It’s heartbreaking, our thoughts and prayers are with their families, relatives and friends at this very sad time.”
A note on on Thomond Bridge, remembering Bryan Whelan.
The company thanked emergency personnel “for their professionalism” and added: “We will, of course, co-operate fully with all authorities examining the incident. The company will not be making any further comment at this point.”
A candlelit vigilwill take place at Thomond Bridge next Saturday at 8.30pm.
Lifting the cage that was central to the double tragedy.
Supt Derek Smart of Henry Street Garda Station said gardaí would await a HSA report to assess if a criminal probe is merited. “If the HSA request us to do anything to help in their investigation, such as forensic examination of equipment, this will be done,” he said.
Works on the bridge, due to last 10 weeks after starting last Monday, have been suspended. The deceased had began work on site for the first time on Saturday.
The scene at Thomond Bridge in Limerick. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
Metropolitan mayor of Limerick Jerry O’Dea said: “In times of tragedy like this and in other times, Limerick people can show great solidarity. Even though the two men are not from the city our city would like to pay our respects and mourn with their families.”
Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor Cian Prendiville said: “I think there also now needs to be a full, frank and independent inquiry into how this could have happened, and what can be done to ensure it never happens again. There are many questions to be asked, including how often and how thoroughly are the cables monitored, and what provisions should be in place in case someone falls into the water.”
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