Stormont ministers will be briefed today at their fortnightly Cabinet meeting on a bus accident which claimed the life of a teenager in the North.
Nicola Murray, a 16-year-old pupil at St Ciaran’s High School in Ballygawley, was killed yesterday when an articulated lorry smashed into the school bus she was travelling in as it turned into St Mary’s Primary School in Cabragh, Co Tyrone.
Her nine-year-old cousin was also critically injured in the accident and was being treated in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital.
A 44-year-old lorry driver was arrested at the scene on suspicion of dangerous driving and was later released pending further police investigation.
The crash sent shockwaves through the tight-knit local community and led to calls for action to improve safety on a stretch of road which has claimed numerous lives in recent years – including former Irish rugby coach Mick Doyle, who died in 2004 at the same spot as Nicola.
The school bus, carrying 15 pupils, was turning into St Mary’s Primary School, where it was dropping off seven children, when the lorry slammed into its rear, sending it crashing into a garden.
Nicola and seven other pupils were on their way to St Ciaran’s High School a few miles away in Ballygawley.
The North's Education Minister Caitriona Ruane will brief power sharing executive colleagues on the crash today at their Cabinet meeting in Stormont.
Ms Ruane travelled to the area yesterday and spoke with parents of children affected.
“I am deeply upset by the news of this morning’s tragic accident,” the Sinn Féin minister said.
“My thoughts are with the family of the teenage girl whose life has been tragically cut short and with those of the other children injured.”
First Minister Ian Paisley also sent a personal message of condolence to the dead girl’s grieving family.
“Tragic events like this bring home to all of us the dangers on our roads. I am deeply saddened to learn of today’s tragedy involving the school bus,” the Democratic Unionist leader said.
Stormont ministers will today also discuss Stormont Executive plans to invest in roads with the help of Irish Government funding, other infrastructure, public services, tourism, higher and further education, innovation and business development in the north west gateway of the province covering Strabane, Derry and Limavady.