Northern Ireland news

Toddler left fighting for her life after Ardoyne stabbing now `stable'

Floral tributes and teddy bears with messages left outside the home where two children were stabbed in Brompton Park in Ardoyne. Picture by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

A TODDLER who was left fighting for her life after being stabbed in her home was last night in a stable condition in hospital - as her mother was arrested.

Kayla O'Keefe, who is two-and-a-half, is being treated in hospital following an incident at Brompton Park in Ardoyne in north Belfast on Tuesday night.

She was found in the house having suffering stab wounds and was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Kayla's two-month-old brother, Liam, who had also been stabbed, was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is understood a post-mortem examination was to take place yesterday.

The two children were last night remembered during a community vigil outside the family's home.

Their mother, Romanian-born Raluca Tagani, who suffered wounds to her throat, was also taken to hospital on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old, who moved into the area with her west Belfast-born partner around a year ago, was yesterday released from hospital.

She was then arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder and transferred to police custody for questioning.

Police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

It is believed her partner, who had moved out of the house in recent days, had been in England but has since flown back home to be with his daughter.

A PSNI spokesman who yesterday revealed that Kayla is in a "stable" condition in hospital, also thanked the "local community for their unwavering support and patience while we continue our investigation into the tragic events of Tuesday evening and I continue to ask that anyone who has any information to contact us on 101".

Fr Gary Donegan, a Passionist priest who worked in the Ardoyne community for 20 years, yesterday told The Irish News that the "spirit of Ardoyne" was now needed.

Fr Donegan, who is now based in Crossgar, Co Down but continues in his role as director of the Passionist Peace and Reconciliation Office in north Belfast, said the events of Tuesday were something that many people "perceived to only happen in films or in far away places".

"The place has been left reeling," he said.

"What is needed now is the spirit of Ardoyne, that has brought them through so much. It is needed as much now as it has been. That sense of solidarity.

"Thoughts are with Fr Eugene and Fr John and the parish team, local representatives, youth leaders, because this is something that is affecting the community right across the board.

"Grief and tragedy know no boundaries."

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