Northern Ireland

‘Unspeakable tragedy’ as four young people killed as car strikes tree

Fifth person dies on north’s roads in Newry collision

A police cordon remains at Ballynahonemore Road
A police cordon remains at Ballynahonemore Road Fifth person dies on north’s roads in Newry collision (Oliver McVeigh/PA)

Five deaths on the roads - including four young people in one incident - have sent shockwaves through the victims’ communities, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said.

Four people were killed in Co Armagh after the car they were travelling in struck a tree.

The victims, believed to be aged in their twenties, have been named locally as Emma Mallon, Marina Crilly, Keith Morrison and Phil Mitchell.

They died when the Volkswagen Golf they were travelling in struck the tree at Ballynahonemore Road, near Armagh, at around 2.10am on Sunday.

All four passengers in the car were declared dead at the scene.

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The area remained sealed off throughout Sunday as police continued to investigate the circumstances of the accident.

It took place hours after a pedestrian was hit by a Nissan car on the Forkhill Road, Newry, at around 10.40pm on Saturday night.

The man, aged in his forties, was taken to hospital but died from his injuries a short time later.

While formal identification of those killed outside Armagh has yet to take place, it is understood they are all from the general area.

The horrific accident is the second to claim multiple lives in the wider Armagh area in recent months.

In November last year three people, including husband and wife Patrick and Ciera Grimley, died after a four-vehicle collision near Markethill.

Their friend and neighbour Ciara McElvanna also lost her life.

DUP assembly member William Irwin said the entire area has been left stunned by the latest tragedy.

“The whole countryside, around Armagh and the wider area, is in a state of shock at today at the news coming through four young people losing their lives.

“It’s a real tragedy and certainly the thoughts of the whole community will be with them and my thoughts and prayers will be with the family at this time.”

Mr Irwin said it was important for the entire community to rally around devastated loved ones.

“It’s important that the community rallies around the families and help them.

“It a time of shock, bereavement and tragedy, families need all the help they can get,” he said.

Mr Irwin, who himself lost his son Philip in a swimming pool tragedy more than 25 years ago, said he intends to use his own experience to support the families of the four victims.

A police cordon remains at Ballynahonemore Road
A police cordon at Ballynahonemore Road, near Armagh (Oliver McVeigh/PA)

“Nothing in the world prepares you for the loss of a young person or child, nothing prepares you for it, the trauma, the shock, the birthdays that come ahead, the anniversaries, everything in the future, everything is an issue for that family,” he told the BBC.

Mr Irwin added: “It is horrendous and I intend to visit the families and speak to them, and as you do say, having gone through that experience, I can resonate with those families and know how they feel today.”

His party leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, said in a post to X on Sunday: “Tragic news coming from Armagh. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the four deceased in this devastating incident.”

Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan offered his condolences to relatives of the dead.

“I want to extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of all those involved in this tragic accident,” he said.

“This has left the entire community stunned and heartbroken.

“We will all rally around to support these families in what will be difficult days ahead.”

Stormont first minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill said in an X post: “It’s heartbreaking to learn of the tragic loss of five lives in devastating road accidents in Armagh and Newry.

“My heart goes out to the families, friends, and the local communities affected by these awful tragedies. They are all in our thoughts during this incredibly difficult time.”

District Commander Superintendent Paul McGrattan said an investigation is underway.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy for the families involved, and for the wider community, who will understandably struggle to comprehend such loss of life,” he said.

“A thorough and sensitive investigation is now underway and anyone with information that could assist us is asked to get in touch with the Collision Investigation Unit.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin said the crashes “have sent shockwaves through our communities”.

“Please keep these families in your prayers and remember all their friends and loved ones who have received such awful news,” he said.