Northern Ireland news

Boy (4) who died on farm had a 'smile to melt a heart'

Thomas Magee died tragically on his family's farm near Maguiresbridge
Brendan Hughes

A FOUR-year-old boy who died in a farm accident in Co Fermanagh has been described as having a "smile to melt a heart".

Thomas Magee was killed at his family's farm near Maguiresbridge on Thursday evening.

It is understood he died in an incident involving a digger.

The rural Co Fermanagh community has been plunged into mourning following the tragic death.

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating.

Thomas, the second born in a family of three children, is survived by his two young sisters and parents David and Jackie Magee.

Mr Magee is a farmer while Mrs Magee works as a teacher at Ballinamallard Primary School.

A prayer service at Maguiresbridge Methodist Church was planned yesterday evening following the tragedy that has shocked the community.

The church said the meeting would "facilitate people to come together for fellowship and prayer".

"Our thoughts are very much with the the Magee family this morning and in the coming days. Please uphold them in prayer at this sad time," it said online.

The little boy's scout group paid tribute to him in a heartfelt post on Facebook.

The Colebrooke/Cooneen Scout Group said: "We are absolutely dumbfounded and shocked to hear the tragic news of losing one of our members.

"We want to express our deepest sympathy to the family of our 'little squirrel' Thomas Magee who was taken from us tragically in a farm accident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his mum, dad, sisters and wider family.

"He was the one with the smile to melt a heart and the glint in the eye to add the spark.

"He will be deeply missed by all his fellow Squirrels and indeed all the scouting members and leaders. Rest in peace wee man xx."

Police attended the farm at about 8.30pm on Thursday.

Inspector Glen Latimer said: "The child was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

"Local PSNI will work closely with the Health and Safety Executive as they investigate the circumstances."

Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott, who knows the family, said the tragedy has "shocked everyone in the local community".

"This is a highly respected and hard-working family, who I am sure are devastated at this very difficult time. I know the close-knit community will rally round in this extremely sad period," he said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster also expressed her sympathies, describing the death as "devastating news", as did former Sinn Féin agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew.

UUP councillor Victor Warrington said people had been left "shocked and devastated".

"It is a tragedy in a close-knit area. I know the father fairly well, and certainly our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out at this sad time," he said.

The tragedy is the first death of a child on a farm in the north for almost three years.

The last fatality was in June 2014, when an eight-year-old boy died in a slurry tank accident near Dunloy, Co Antrim.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) said there were seven deaths on farms in the north last year and six in 2015.

A spokeswoman said: "The HSENI is aware of a fatality ?on a farm in the Maguiresbridge area and is investigating.

"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family at this most difficult time."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news