Firefighters’ families set for protest march

FAMILIES of the Bray firefighters who lost their lives two weeks ago have organised a weekend march to protest against the lack of full-time fire services in towns throughout Ireland.

The families of Brian Murray, 46, and Mark O’Shaughnessy, 26, are further angered and shocked that a Labour Party motion in the Dáil, on the proposed full-time service, was defeated by government TDs.

The two retained firemen died after a burning building collapsed on them at the Lower Dargle Road in the Co Wicklow town on September 26.

The families are also seeking an independent inquiry into the double tragedy.

“I’m absolutely gutted at the response from the Dáil,” said Mr Murray’s widow Mary Murray, after the midweek vote.

“I’m appalled really, that the Dáil would be split on it. It’s not a political thing, it’s a humanitarian thing.”

Mrs Murray has been left to raise 15 children and she hopes the families’ campaign will prevent such catastrophes happening in the future. “There’s a lot of support in the community but I still think people in Bray and surrounding areas, like Kilmacanogue and Glencree, aren’t fully educated about what’s going on with the fire service in Bray,” she said.

She described comments made by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in the aftermath of the fire as “misleading”. The Taoiseach suggested at the time that the presence of a full-time fire service in Bray wouldn’t have prevented the deaths but the grieving families have rejected this theory, pointing out the response time to any incident was longer when retained firefighters are not based at a station.

Mr O’Shaughnessy’s brother Eamonn yesterday criticised local Fianna Fáil TD and junior minister Dick Roche for suggesting the situation was for the local council to resolve. “The guy is being so mean and heartless,” said Mr O’Shaughnessy, before accusing him of “dishonouring Mark and Brian’s memory”. An independent inquiry was necessary, he said, because investigations launched by the gardaí and the Health and Safety Authority would be limited in their scope.

Darren Murphy, a brother-in-law of Mr Murray, said the families were hoping for as much backing as possible from the public tomorrow, to show the authorities they will not back down until the full-time service was introduced.

The protest will start at 11am at the town hall (McDonald’s) in Bray and proceed to the disused factory site where the fatal fire occurred.

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