Northern Ireland news

Michelle O'Neill welcomes outcome of Joe McCloskey review

Dungiven fireman Joe McCloskey was killed on duty in November 2003
Connla Young

MICHELLE O’Neill has welcomed the outcome of a review she set up into the actions of fire authorities after the death of Co Derry firefighter Joe McCloskey.

The Irish News revealed yesterday that the report set out a series of failings.

Mr McCloskey (50) died after falling through a roof into a blazing storeroom while fighting a fire at the Gorteen House Hotel in Limavady on Halloween night in 2003.

A review set up by Ms O'Neill as health minister last year concluded there are lessons to be learned regarding the support provided to the family and the “efficacy of the internal investigation” carried out at the time.

In a letter to Mr McCloskey’s widow Marie, Chief Fire and Rescue Officer Gary Thompson said: “I fully and unreservedly apologise to you and your family for these failings".

“I fully acknowledge our lack of duty of care towards you and your family in the aftermath of Joe’s death."

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill

Ms O’Neill welcomed the outcome of the review.

“I want to again pay tribute to Joe’s widow Marie and his family,” she said.

“They have fought a long campaign for the full circumstances of his death to be made public.”

Mrs McCloskey told The Irish News it was a “disgrace” that it took 15 years for fire chiefs to apologise.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader said she established the review to help the family and "its outcome is a vindication of their determination and persistence”.

“It should not have taken so long to get to this stage but I hope it can bring them some degree of comfort.”

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