Bishop of Cloyne William Crean has said his heart goes out to the family of a seven-year-old boy who died a day after falling into a flooded river near his home.
James Casey Butler, from Forrest Hill in Midleton, Co Cork, fell into the Owenacurra river after passing through a gap in fencing designed to keep people from the banks.
Locals have expressed concerns that the accident was a tragedy waiting to happen.
Bishop Crean said he was deeply saddened to learn of the boy’s death.
“My heart goes out to all concerned: to the parents of James, to his extended family, relatives, friends and to the community of Midleton parish,” he said.
“On behalf of the people and priests of the Diocese of Cloyne, I offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences and I ask for prayers for all those who are grieving.”
James had been playing with friends on a green at the back of the Tir Cluain housing estate in Midleton when the accident happened at about 6pm on Saturday.
He went through a gap between a wire fence and a wooden fence to the river bank, slipped and fell in with the swollen river sweeping him 300 yards downstream.
One of the friends ran to local houses and raised the alarm.
The Owenacurra, in flood following torrential rain, was about 5ft deep and one local man waded in fast flowing water up to his shoulders to get to James where he had been brought to a stop.
The child had been in the water for several minutes. He died in Crumlin children’s hospital in Dublin last night.
There is dispute as to who is responsible for fencing near the river at the housing estate as some of the properties are owned by Cork Co Council, some in Nama and part of the bank is privately owned.
Questions have also been raised over the length of time it took for paramedics to reach the scene.
Health Minister James Reilly said he was awaiting a report on the response time from Cork University Hospital.
“Well, while I await a full report, the first thing I want to do is empathise with the family on their terrible tragic loss. It’s the last thing any parent wants to do is be at their child’s funeral,” he said.
Dr Reilly added that claims that it took 45 minutes to reach the scene are inaccurate.
“I’m aware that there was an advance paramedic on the scene within seven to eight minutes, and that an ambulance was present in 19 minutes,” he said.