Clondalkin fire deaths tragedy ‘a nightmare’

The mother of two young children who died in a fire at a Dublin charity housing complex was still fighting for her life last night.

Clondalkin fire deaths tragedy ‘a nightmare’

Brigid “Biddy” O’Brien, who is in her 30s, remained in a critical condition in the burns unit of St James’s Hospital, surrounded by family and friends.

The fire at the Clondalkin home claimed the lives of her two children, Holly, aged 3, and Jordan, aged 4, along with the lives of her cousin, Annmarie O’Brien, who was seven months pregnant, and her two-year-old daughter, Paris.

Annmarie, aged 27, was staying in the facility, a supported housing unit run by a domestic violence agency, with her daughter, while Biddy O’Brien and her two children were visiting her.

Emergency services were first alerted at 2.30am on Wednesday after residents in the Sonas Clondalkin Supported Housing unit saw smoke coming from the door of an apartment.

The five occupants were taken to separate hospitals, but Annmarie, Paris and Holly died a short time later.

Jordan was in a critical condition in Crumlin Children’s Hospital during the day, but passed away late in the afternoon.

Experts from the Garda Technical Bureau continued their examination of the apartment for a second day yesterday.

Gardaí continue a technical examination of the scene.
Gardaí continue a technical examination of the scene.

They are investigating the cause and nature of the smoke and fire and how it spread throughout the two-bed apartment.

As reported in the Irish Examiner yesterday they suspect an “electrical” cause and are examining a television in the livingroom. Sources said other factors could also have been involved and that the examination is continuing.

The bureau is also liaising with the Dublin Fire Brigade.

It is suspected the fire had an electrical cause.
It is suspected the fire had an electrical cause.

Teddies, flowers and candles adorned the entrance to the facility on Kilcronan Road yesterday.

It also emerged that the O’Brien women are related to some of those who lost their lives at the fire in Carrickmines halting site in south Dublin in October 2015.

Ten people, including five children and a pregnant woman, a friend of the O’Brien women, perished in that blaze.

A relative of the women, and a worker in the Travelling community, yesterday said people are in “complete shock”.

Jim O’Brien said: “This is something that is devastating and has devastated our community again in such a short space of time [after] Carrickmines.

“It certainly has opened up old wounds of Carrickmines for everyone, particularly the Lynch family, the Gilbert family, because it’s so raw.”

Mr O’Brien, manager of the Bray Travellers’ Development Community Group, described the tragedy as “a nightmare”.

He told RTÉ News at One: “In the coming days, nothing has been arranged yet, but in the coming days we’re going to be getting ourselves ready for a dark, dark day again in Bray, for a similar type funeral for both Annmarie and the three young children that have passed away.”

Mr O’Brien said he had visited St James’s Hospital and spoke briefly to Biddy O’Brien’s mum and dad.

“Words can’t describe the devastation that they are going through, the pain and the hurt,” he said.

Mr O’Brien, who worked as a counsellor for many of those affected by the Carrickmines tragedy, said people can support the families concerned by simply being there for them: “There’s not a whole lot you can say, other that letting the family and the extended family know that you are there.”

He said the Bray centre has links with a specific Traveller counselling service and a grievance service.

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