'Staggering' amount raised leads to delay in distribution of funds for Creeslough victims

The scene of the suspected gas explosion in Creeslough, Co Donegal, where 10 people were killed last October. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The scene of the suspected gas explosion in Creeslough, Co Donegal, where 10 people were killed last October. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

An Australian-based ex-pat who organised a GoFundMe for Creeslough victims said the "staggering" more than €500,000 raised has delayed distribution of the money.

Gerard McFadden, originally from the Donegal village, launched the fundraiser in the immediate aftermath of the explosion that killed ten people, including three children, at the Applegreen petrol station last October.

The immediate target of €20,000 was surpassed within days as the money poured in. Close to 10,000 individuals and organisations have donated €518,000.

More recently the fund received €1,200 from the Long Tower Primary School in Derry, raised after pupils recorded and released 'We Are There' to remember the victims. It was one of the largest single donations.

Other large donations included more than €7,000 from the Association of Donegal Celtic Supporters. 

Mr McFadden organised the fundraiser to help the families of the deceased and injured "through these challenging times". 

In a recent post on the GoFundMe page, Mr McFadden wrote: "Unfortunately the process is taking a lot longer than expected due to the large sum of funds involved. I really had anticipated it would have being finalised by now and I will continue to push things from my end as best as I can.

"I am currently liaising with the relevant bodies and please be assured the funds are still being held by gofundme and will remain there until all has being finalised.

He previously described the response as "overwhelming" and that the "staggering amount" raised led to the process of distributing the funds was taking longer than anticipated.

The private fundraiser is separate from other support the Creeslough community is expected to receive, including from the Irish Government.

€500,000 has been earmarked by the government, with the aim of helping the Co Donegal village recover.

Community development minister Joe O'Brien announced the Creeslough Together Initiative funding to  "support the community as it recovers through the coming years". The new initiative will be delivered over a three-year period.

Mr O'Brien said: "The 7th of October marked a dark day for the people of Creeslough, and the road to recovery will be a long one. Since the awful tragedy, I have visited and engaged with key members of the Creeslough community to see what supports my department could offer to help the community going forward.

"I trust this Initiative will mark an important step towards brighter times."

Four men, three women, two teenagers and a five-year-old girl were killed in the suspected gas explosion that destroyed a shop and apartments upstairs. Eight people were injured .