Donegal County Council investigating pier tragedy

Donegal County Council are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic drowning accident at Buncrana Pier last month, which claimed the lives of five family members from Derry.

In a statement to the Donegal News, a spokesperson for the local authority said the Council “have gathered some of the facts surrounding this unfortunate tragedy in Buncrana and that process is continuing”.

The gate at the top of the slipway had been installed at the pier originally to regulate traffic queuing for the ferry, the statement said.


Sean McGrotty (46), his two young sons, Mark (12) and eight-year-old, Evan, their grandmother, Ruth Daniels (57) and her daughter, Jodie-Lee (14) all lost their lives in the accident on Sunday, March 20, when the car they were in got into difficulty on the algae-covered surface of the slipway of Buncrana Pier and entered the water. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr McGrotty’s four-month-old daughter, Rioghnach-Ann, who had been rescued by Kerrykeel man, Davitt Walsh after he swam into the River Swilly to come to the aid of the family.

The statement reads: “The incident at Buncrana Slipway on the night of 20 March resulted in the tragic loss of five lives when the family vehicle entered the water from the slipway. Piers and slipways are generally public places and open to the public. The interface between the dry land and the sea with all the variations that nature brings including water depths, tides, swells and currents, wave forces, seaweed and debris can make them a high risk location.

“The Council would wish that such a tragedy would not happen again. The Council have gathered some of the facts surrounding this unfortunate tragedy in Buncrana and that process is continuing. As the details become known and are fully considered, the Council will review them and determine if any specific measures need to be taken.. The Council will also have regard to the findings from the Buncrana incident as they might relate to other piers and harbours and an initial process to do that is underway. The Council have roughly 150 piers of varying sizes and uses around its coastline.

“The Council are in negotiations for the resumption of the Buncrana to Rathmullan Ferry in early June and it is expected that a decision will be taken around the reopening of the locked gate at the top of the slipway before the Ferry comes into operation. The gate had been installed originally to regulate traffic queuing for the ferry.”


The victims of Buncrana drowning tragedy.

The victims of Buncrana drowning tragedy.





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