Northern Ireland

Inquest into death of Ruth Maguire who fell into Carlingford Lough during hen party hears calls for safety measures

Ruth Maguire with her fiancé James Griffin
Ruth Maguire with her fiancé James Griffin Ruth Maguire with her fiancé James Griffin

A CORONER at the inquest into the death of a Belfast woman who drowned after falling into Carlingford Lough has said he will write to the local council to ask for safety measures at the harbour to be examined.

It comes after the mother of Ruth Maguire (30) today told the court in Dundalk that Louth County Council has a moral responsibility to erect a safety rail to prevent a similar tragedy.

"I know it all comes to money, but at the end of the day you can't put a price on a life," said Geraldine Worthington.

Ms Maguire, a health assistant from north Belfast and who lived in Newcastle, Co Down, was on a hen night in the Co Louth village, when she died in March.

She had been due to marry fiancé James Griffin and father of their three children in August, but was instead buried in her wedding dress.

The inquest heard she was part of a hen party that had travelled to Carlingford, but had left Taffe's Bar around 11.30pm on March 16.

Doorman Les McIlroy said she asked to leave by a back door because of an altercation involving members of another hen party.

Coroner Ronan Maguire said she had not been involved in the altercation and had asked to leave by a separate door to avoid confrontation.

Mr McIlroy said she had spoken about going home to Newcastle, but he told her there were no taxis available.

The inquest heard she took a photograph across from the pier and posted it to Instagram at midnight. It is believed she fell off the pier shortly after.

Mr Griffin discovered she had rung him at six minutes past midnight asking him to collect her, but she had called his work mobile, which was turned off.

He did not receive the message until he turned the phone back on two weeks later.

Ruth Maguire went missing while visiting Carlingford on a friend's hen party
Ruth Maguire went missing while visiting Carlingford on a friend's hen party Ruth Maguire went missing while visiting Carlingford on a friend's hen party

Following extensive searches, Ms Maguire's body was found on Blockhouse Island in Carlingford Lough on March 18.

Ms Maguire's mother told the court she believed the council had a responsibility to make the harbour a safer place.

"Carlingford is a beautiful place, I love going there," she said.

"But it is a place that makes a lot of money by attracting people from all over Ireland to attend hen, stag and birthday parties.

"There are a lot of young people who often drink more than they should and there are no mummies, daddies or partners there to look after them.

"The pier is a dangerous place, it is an uneven surface and it is very easy to trip and fall.

"Even when we go to lay flowers at the place where Ruth fell in, family members have tripped and almost fallen in themselves."

The coroner returned an open verdict in keeping with the medical evidence that Ms Maguire had drowned.

He said he would raise the family’s concerns with the council and ask them to examine the feasibility of erecting a safety rail at the harbour.

Speaking after the inquest, Ms Worthington told RTÉ: "I know it all comes to money, but at the end of the day you can't put a price on a life.

"Carlingford and the local council make a lot of money from people who go there, so I think they have a moral obligation to make the village as safe as possible for everyone who visits.

"They haven’t done anything since Ruth's death but we have been told a number of other people have fallen in since then and were lucky to get out of the water."

Ruth Maguire with her sister Rachel Wilkinson
Ruth Maguire with her sister Rachel Wilkinson Ruth Maguire with her sister Rachel Wilkinson