Northern Ireland news

Man escaped tragedy on Buncrana pier two years ago

The algae-covered slipway at Buncrana pier where the tragedy happened. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

A similar tragedy at Buncrana pier had narrowly been avoided previously, it emerged last night.

A man escaped after his car entered the water at the slipway two years ago.

It bore striking similarities to the heartbreaking scenes in the seaside town on Sunday night.

The slipway into Lough Swilly is prone to a build-up of thick algae.

The coastguard last night confirmed that a car, which had been attached to a boat, had entered the water previously.

"Lough Swilly RNLI responded to a similar incident two years ago," a spokeswoman said.

"This incident involved a person who was attempting to launch a boat in unfamiliar waters which resulted in their car sliding into the water.

"The person managed to come ashore safely unaided."

The slipway is normally used by vehicles to access a ferry across Lough Swilly to Rathmullan in the summer months.

A gate is located on the slipway that shuts it off to traffic.

However, according to local people it is not often used.

It remained unclear last night if any new safety measures are being considered following Sunday's devastating tragedy.

Donegal County Council did not respond to questions from the Irish News.

Independent councillor Nicholas Crossan said the pier is a focal point in Buncrana, just like it any seaside town.

"Just two hours earlier the tide would have been in and the water would have been right up the pier," he said.

"Within a few hours and with the tide out, people are able to drive down, but you obviously don't know what the sea brings in.

"I'm sure there will be a protocol to follow in light in of the tragedy in regard to safety."

Fianna Fail councillor Rena Donaghey said: "The pier is used mostly from June to September when the ferry operates.

"The pier would usually be very safe. But the algae on the pier is the guts of 40 metres long.

"We have a big gate that would be used, but then it's hard to know when the pier will need to be accessed."

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