Order of Business

Before I call the Leader, I express my heartfelt sympathy to the families of those who died in the two appalling incidents at the weekend. The deaths of ten people, five of them young children, at the halting site in Carrickmines in the early hours of Saturday morning was a devastating tragedy for their families and the close-knit Traveller community to which they belong. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them and those who survived the fire but are being treated in hospital.

The murder of Garda Tony Golden in Omeath underlines the dangers members of An Garda Síochána face on a daily basis as they protect communities. I offer my deepest sympathy to the late Garda Golden's wife, Nicola; their three young children and wider family. Our thoughts are also with the members of An Garda Síochána who have lost a colleague and friend. The loss of Garda Golden, a gentle giant, a proud family man and a credit to An Garda Síochána, will be felt keenly in his native Ballina, County Mayo where he excelled in hurling with Ballina Stephenites and among the community on the Cooley Peninsula.

We must remember, too, the young woman who was shot and is being treated in hospital. We wish her a full recovery.

Before I announce the Order of Business, I join the Cathaoirleach in extending my deep and heartfelt sympathy to the relatives of the ten people who died in the fire in Carrickmines at the weekend and to wish a speedy recovery to the two children who have been orphaned. I extend my sympathy to all of the families concerned. I also pay tribute to the members of the fire and emergency services.

I express my sympathy on the death of Garda Anthony Golden who was aged 36 years and stationed at Omeath Garda station. He was shot while carrying out his duty as a guardian of the peace. I extend to his wife, Nicola, their three young children and family my deepest sympathy which I also extend to the entire Garda family who are deeply saddened and shocked by the death of a colleague. We can speak on another occasion about the facts surrounding the shooting. It highlights the dangers gardaí face every day while on duty. I firmly believe there is a need for greater respect for the Garda community that have served us so well since the foundation of the State. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

On behalf of the Fianna Fáil group in the Seanad, I extend my deepest sympathy following the terrible and tragic events that occurred over the weekend and which resulted in the loss of ten people in the fire in Carrickmines which, as the Leader said, has left two children fighting for their lives. We wish them a speedy recovery. It was a desperate and terrible tragedy which involved the largest number of fatalities in a fire since the Stardust disaster. We also remember those families who still seek justice for their relatives who died in that disaster. I am sure the Government and the emergency services will in due course carry out proper investigations into what happened in Carrickmines to ensure this type of incident cannot happen again. I pay tribute to the emergency services, the members of the fire service, the HSE National Ambulance Service and the gardaí who attended the scene and did everything they could to save as many lives as possible.

I pass on my deepest sympathy to the family of the late Garda Tony Golden, his young children, wife and parents, and also to his colleagues on his brutal and disgusting murder in Omeath. It occurred just a couple of short years after the demise of a colleague of his, Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was also murdered in the line of duty. Unfortunately, his murderers are still at large. For me, as I am sure for every other colleague, the murder reinforces the crucial job the Garda and emergency services carry out day to day in the service of the State in protecting it against criminals. All we can hope for is that these events will not recur. We must look at how we can protect gardaí further when working in the line of duty. Our main thoughts are with the late Garda Tony Golden's family, friends and colleagues on what is an absolutely awful tragedy for those in County Louth, especially Omeath. My thoughts and prayers and those of my party colleagues are with them and the relatives of the ten people, five of whom were children, who perished in the awful fire in Carrickmines over the weekend.

With that in mind, I do not propose to go through any other business. We will have budget statements and discuss other matters of political discourse in the coming days. I confine my comments to those two very serious items. I wish and hope some solace will be given to the families to whom, on my own behalf and that of my colleagues in Fianna Fáil, I extend our deepest sympathy.

The Leader omitted to include the Order of business.

Yes. The Order of Business is No. 1, statements on budget 2016, to be taken at 5 p.m. and conclude not later than 7 p.m., if not previously concluded, with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and those of all other Senators not to exceed six minutes and the Minister to be called on to reply not later than 6.55 p.m.

I ask Members to stand for a minute's silence as a mark of respect to those who died in such tragic circumstances at the weekend.

Members rose.

Has Senator Darragh O'Brien finished?

Absolutely. I thank the Cathaoirleach.

On behalf of the Labour Party group, I join the Leader and Senator Darragh O'Brien in expressing sincere sympathy to the families of those bereaved so tragically at the weekend in the two incidents described. I express my sincere condolences to the families of the ten victims in the appalling fire in Carrickmines in south Dublin who included five children and in which others were injured and also to the family of Garda Anthony Golden who was killed so tragically in the line of duty in Omeath.

As others said, we will hear statements on the budget. We have all been listening to its content and will be able to discuss it later.

I echo everything that has been said so sincerely by our colleagues about the loss of lives at Carrickmines and Omeath. This is a House of the people and if there is anything that we, its Members, can do for the bereaved, they can call on us. I am sure there will be expressions of solidarity with them on the days of the funerals. It is welcome that the Government is to fly flags on public buildings at half mast. In their time of loss they have our prayers, as Senator Darragh O'Brien said. They are in our thoughts and we are here to help. If this can be any consolation to the families, I am sure there are many people listening in Leinster House who will help.

I join the Leader, the Leader of the Opposition, Senators Ivana Bacik and Sean D. Barrett. Some of us were in the Dáil Chamber to hear the Budget Statement. Of course, sympathy was expressed and there was a minute's silence which was both eerie and very powerful, as was the minute's silence in this Chamber which reflected the same sense of solace felt, the same togetherness and support for those who perished in Carrickmines who were members of the Traveller community and lived in very difficult conditions. It does not bear thinking about. The last time there was a fire of that nature, as Senator Darragh O'Brien rightly pointed out, it was at the Stardust in the early 1980s which we can all remember.

The tragedy in Carrickmines was followed by the killing of Garda Anthony Golden in Omeath. As Fine Gael spokesperson on justice, I often speak about An Garda Síochána, to which I pay tribute for the enormity of the job it does and the sacrifices its members make. In this case Garda Anthony Golden made the ultimate sacrifice in losing his life. He was the 88th member of the force to do so since the since its foundation. All we can do is convey our sympathy to his wife, Nicola, and their three children, to the entire Garda force, the people of County Louth and all former members of An Garda Síochána. The Garda is a community and a family which does enormous good for the people and we must stand with it in solidarity at this very difficult time.

Certainly, it was a weekend of tragedies for families throughout the country. Ten family members perished at Carrickmines, County Dublin. They were Thomas and Sylvia Connors; their children, Jim, Christy and baby Mary; William Lynch and Tara Gilbert and their daughters, Kelsey and Jodie; and William's brother, Jimmy Lynch.

So many members of that family died that it is unbelievable that they would carry on after so many losses. They also included Jodie and Jimmy Lynch and his brother Willie. The only consolation is that the fire in Carrickmines was an accident. Unfortunately, the victims were living in atrocious conditions. In that regard, I am delighted that the Government has moved to carry out inspections of all such sites throughout the country. There are people living in very bad conditions.

I also offer my sympathy to Nicola and her three beautiful children on the death of Garda Tony Golden who was from Culleens, outside Ballina. I offer my sympathy to his family, colleagues, the Garda Commissioner, members of the Garda Representative Association and all members of the force who have lost a great and very loyal member, a community policeman who on the day went to assist Ms Siobhán Phillips and was confronted with a situation in which he was shot dead. Ms Phillips who has two children is in hospital. The young children involved who are now without their fathers face a very uncertain future. Garda Golden was the 88th member of An Garda Síochána to die in the service of the State. We should continue, as we always do in this House, to have the utmost respect for members of An Garda Síochána who are prepared every day to sacrifice lives to protect the people. It is very sad and tragic. Investigations will be carried out into what happened on the fateful day. We join colleagues in expressing our deepest sympathy to all concerned.

I heartily concur with the expressions of sympathy which have been led by the Cathaoirleach, Senator Darragh O'Brien and others. I extend heartfelt sympathy to the families of all those involved, the family of the late Garda Tony Golden and the entire Garda force. As Senator Darragh O'Brien said, I do not think other words would be appropriate at this time. We should, perhaps, adjourn and discuss the budget in due course.

I join my colleagues in the expressions of sympathy to the families of the unfortunate victims of the horrific fire in Carrickmines, County Dublin and to the wife, children and extended family of the late Garda Tony Golden who was a native of Ballina, County Mayo. It brings to mind, unfortunately, the horrific incident that occurred less than three years ago, when Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, a native of my county, Cavan, was brutally murdered. There is a common theme running through both horrific murders, namely, that the individuals involved call themselves republicans. I call them thugs and murdering psychopaths and the sooner they are put off the streets and our island, the better. As Senator Paul Coghlan stated, there will be another day on which to discuss these matters. This is not the day to do so. Suffice it to say I extend my deepest sympathy to the families affected by both horrific incidents.

I, too, will confine my comments to expressing sympathy to all of the families affected by the tragedies which have occurred in the past week, the fire at Carrickmines and the untimely death of Garda Tony Golden, which was a terrible ordeal. It was the second death of a Garda in the area, which is very troubling. In addition, a priest, Fr. O'Donoghue, lost his life in a fire during the week. I add my voice to the expressions of sympathy to the families of those involved.

Like everybody else, I offer my condolences to the families of those who died in Carrickmines, to the late Garda Tony Golden's family and to the family of the homeless man who died in Dublin over the weekend. The people who died in Carrickmines lived just down the road from me in a halting site that was well off the road. They minded their own business as they went about their daily lives. To see two families being wiped out so quickly and two young children being orphaned is tragic.

There are points we could make today, but, as Senator Paul Coghlan stated, this is not the time for recriminations.

With respect to the late Garda Tony Golden, the Garda family is close-knit. When my brother, a garda, died, the N11 was closed to allow the funeral cortege travel to Shanagarry. Today the families and loved ones of gardaí on duty this evening will be thinking about whether their fathers and mothers will return home later tonight. It will take some days for these feelings to pass. We must remember that the Garda is one of the few police forces in the world that is unarmed and that officers walk into perilous situations every day of the week. Few of us ever give them a second thought because we rarely, if ever, need them. However, there are those who do need them such as the woman who was in distress at the weekend. There was a garda willing to travel to her house to assist her. Sadly, he lost his life while doing so. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

I, too, join in the expressions of sympathy. Garda Tony Golden was the 88th member of the force to die on duty in 93 years and it is one death too many. Every one of the gardaí who died during the years had served the force well. It is extremely sad. It is important that we convey our sympathy to the late Garda Golden's wife, Nicola, and immediate family.

I also join in extending sympathy to the families of those who died in the tragedy at Carrickmines. Ten people died - five adults and five children. It brings home the need for all of us to be mindful of one another in where we live and work. Last year we highlighted the number of deaths that had occurred in farming accidents. Senator Marie Moloney referred to a person in County Kerry who had died in a fire. These incidents highlight the need to focus on the issue and how we can make places safer. Whether it is our home or other accommodation such as an apartment or Traveller accommodation in which we live, we need to focus and take action. It is a matter we should discuss. It is also important that we convey our sympathy to the families of those involved. These are huge tragedies and major losses for everyone involved.

I also join colleagues in extending my deepest sympathy to the Lynch, Connors and Gilbert families who lost ten members in the appalling tragedy in Carrickmines at the weekend. It certainly brings home to us how fragile life is and how lives can be snuffed out in an instant in an appalling accident. I think of the extended Traveller community throughout the country, some of whom in my town of Ballinasloe lost relatives in Carrickmines. I also think of the two children who are fighting for their lives and hope they will make a full recovery.

I join in the expressions of praise for the emergency services. I think of the awful trauma they face on an ongoing basis when called out to such horrific accidents. I am glad that every support will be given to the families and that all accommodation provided on halting sites will be examined. I am also pleased that counselling services are being made available to the many members of the families which have been impacted on by this appalling tragedy.

I also join others in expressing sympathy and offering our prayers and support to Nicola Golden on the loss of her husband, Tony, who was shot in a senseless killing in Omeath at the weekend. I also express sympathy to her three children and his extended family. He had served the State well. He was a true gentleman who was only concerned for his family and colleagues and the community he had served so well.

I share the anger of my colleague who referred to the need to discuss the availability of weaponry. We think of the families concerned. I hope the support they receive from the communities in which they live will be of some comfort to them. As Senator Sean D. Barrett stated, we hope anything the families require of the State, including the Legislature, will be forthcoming.

I add my words of sympathy to all the families affected by the dreadful weekend of tragedies. I convey my sympathy to the families of the ten people who lost their lives in the horrific accident in Carrickmines. As Senator Michael Mullins stated, we must also praise the members of the emergency services who arrived at an horrific scene on Saturday. I also express sympathy to the family of the gentleman who died over the weekend on Westmoreland Street.

I pay tribute to the late Garda Anthony Golden who lived in my home village of Blackrock, County Louth, where his funeral will take place on Thursday. From all the reports I have read about his actions on Sunday, he was an astonishingly brave man. I called to the Garda station this morning before travelling to Dublin and ahead of the prayer service, which was held at 11 a.m. It is surreal to think it was less than three years ago when we all signed a book of condolence for the late Garda Adrian Donohoe. At the time, we hoped and prayed that something like that would never happen again. The whole community has been shaken to its core by the events of last weekend. The Garda is still dealing with the death of Garda Adrian Donohoe. My thoughts go out to his wife, Caroline, and their two children who must be feeling for the Golden family today. I also extend my sympathy to the late Garda Golden's wife, Nicola; their three young children; his family in County Mayo; and his mother-in-law, Nicola's mother, Iris O'Sullivan, who also lives in Blackrock. I pay tribute to the gardaí in Dundalk who do a great job.

I also express my condolences to the families of all the victims of the weekend's events. We in south Dublin will have ten funerals. The accident in Carrickmines was so horrific that the suffering of the victims and those who have been left behind does not bear thinking about. I offer my sympathy to the families and friends of those who died: Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert and their children, Kelsey and Jodie; Thomas and Sylvia Connors and their children, Jim, Christy and six-month-old Mary; and Willie Lynch's brother, Jimmy. I also offer my sympathy to the extended community in Carrickmines and Bray and the Traveller friends of the families living in neighbouring districts who are doing Trojan work in providing services and facilities for the families, including counselling. The council will also help out. I am aware that an online fund has been established by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to help with the costs of ten funerals, which will be an expensive business.

I pay tribute to the late Garda Tony Golden. May he rest in peace. I extend my sympathy to his wife and three children. His death brings home to us again that gardaí put their lives in danger every day of the week. The late Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe's wife must be feeling for Nicola, the late Garda Golden's wife, and her children. I sympathise with the family of the late Garda Tony Golden who are from County Mayo.

There is so much one could say about it and there is so much that has to be done. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government announced today that every local authority would have to carry out a review, as we do not want a recurrence of this type of accident. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha dílis.

I extend my sympathy to the families of the unfortunate people who lost their lives in the horrific accident in Carrickmines at the weekend. I also extend my sympathy to the family of the late Garda Tony Golden, a man I knew personally and who worked in the communities of Carlingford, Omeath and the wider Cooley Peninsula. I extend my sympathy to his Garda colleagues in the Omeath-Carlingford branch and gardaí in the wider Dundalk area. He was a true community garda. I read a description of him as a gentle giant and endorse that statement. He was a gentle giant who went about his duties quietly and with great dignity. I had the privilege of knowing him and had a cup of tea with him only two weeks ago in Carlingford. He paid the ultimate price in losing his own life in going to help someone in his community who was suffering violence in her own home. People ask what would have happened if he had had the assistance of three or four gardaí. I believe they would have paid the same price. It was a truly devastating evening in the parish of Omeath and Carlingford, where we were celebrating the wonderful sporting feats of our rugby team that same Sunday. To hear the news was devastating. I extend my sympathy to his wife and immediate family and wider family in County Mayo.

I support Senator Terry Brennan in his comments on the late Garda Tony Golden who lived four or five doors away from me in the village of Blackrock, County Louth. He was a wonderful person. Sometimes one says it and it means nothing, but in this case it is absolutely true. He was a man of outstanding integrity and a great family man who liked nothing better than to spend his spare time with his three beautiful little children. My heart goes out to his wife, Nicola, who is from the village and the extended family on their great loss. Sometimes we do not appreciate enough the risks gardaí take in protecting us, the people. They do this work in order that we can sleep safely in our beds. I offer my sympathy and condolences to all members of the force. They must be feeling terrible today at the loss of their colleague such a short time after the loss of another of their colleagues, the late Adrian Donohoe, whose child I enrolled in the national school when I was teaching in Bellurgan.

This is not the day to see what solutions we can find to these problems, but Senator Paul Coghlan and others drafted a report calling for a beefed-up special task unit to deal with criminality. I supported that recommendation at the time and support it now not because of this horrific and unacceptable tragedy but because we need to combat the fallout from the Troubles. Some criminals have taken over the trade in misery that has been ongoing for so long.

Order of Business agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 4.45 p.m. and resumed at 5 p.m.