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Glenavon footballer Joshua Daniels tells of life after Buncrana pier tragedy

Joshua Daniels with his daughter and fiancee Hannah Kelly
Brendan Hughes

A FOOTBALLER who lost five members of his family in the Buncrana pier tragedy has spoken of how he has coped with his loss.

Joshua Daniels (23), from Derry, lost his mother Ruth Daniels (57) and sister Jodie Lee Daniels (14) in the drowning accident in March 2016.

His sister Louise James's partner Sean McGrotty (49) and their two boys Mark (12) and eight-year-old Evan also died in the tragedy when the car the five were in went off a slipway.

The sole survivor was Ms James's and Mr McGrotty's baby daughter Rionaghach-Ann after he handed her to a rescuer moments before the vehicle sank into Lough Swilly.

Mr Daniels, who plays for Glenavon FC, said he wanted to protect his family and "bring them together" following the tragedy.

Speaking to BBC Newsline, he said: "When something comes like this, like a freak accident, obviously you're not going to be prepared.

"People have different coping mechanisms, and I think I just had to get on with it and sort of bring the family close-knit – just keep everybody safe.

"It was nearly like you want to throw a blanket over everybody that you were close to at the time and bring them together."

But Mr Daniels is looking forward to the forthcoming years as the "best days of my life".

His daughter was born in 2018 and he is set to marry his fiancee Hannah Kelly.

Mr Daniels also said Rionaghach-Ann is now four years old and "doing amazing".

"I love her to bits. I'm her godfather as well. It's a special connection," he added.

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