BBC News

Eight people are killed in Donegal car crash


Eight people have been killed in a car crash in County Donegal, about 15 miles from the Northern Ireland border.

The two-car collision happened on the Drumfree to Clonmany road at 2230 BST on Sunday.

Seven of the dead were travelling in a black Volkswagen Passat, the driver of which survived. The eighth person to die was the driver of the second car.

It is believed the 66-year-old man had been returning home after playing bingo in Buncrana.

The seven young men who died in the Passat were 21-year-old Mark McLaughlin, from Fahan; Paul Doherty and Ciaran Sweeney who were 19 and from Ballyliffin; Patrick McLaughlin, 21, from Burnfoot; 22-year-old Eamonn McDaid and 21-year-old Damien McLaughlin, both from Buncrana, and James McEleney, 23, from Clonmany.

The driver of the other car was Hugh Friel from Clonmany.

image captionIt is believed the car hit a Renault minutes before the fatal accident

The surviving driver was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital where he is said to be in a critical condition.

Traffic police said the black Passat saloon was believed to have collided with a white Renault before the driver lost control and ploughed into a red Toyota 200m away.

'Tight bends'

BBC NI reporter Paddy O'Flaherty said the road where the accident happened was very narrow.

"It's a twisty, windy road. Lots of tight bends with high hedges," he said.

"There are a few straight stretches but they are few and far between."

At Mass in Buncrana on Monday morning, Father Rafal Januszewski said it was a "tragedy of all Inishowen people".

"Words are nothing, it is better to be with them (the families)," he added.

In Clonmany, Fr Fintan Diggin, spoke of how he went to the scene of the accident.

"I got the word that there had been an accident at about a quarter to midnight," he said.

"By that stage the fire services and ambulances were already there. I prayed with those involved and annointed them and tried to be some sort of comfort to all the services that were there as well.

"This morning, people are just overwhelmed by a sense of loss."

Donegal senator Cecelia Keaveney said it was "an ordeal" for all of the families involved.

"Because of the close-knit community it affects very, very many people in Inishowen particularly," she said.

Ms Keaveney said she believed many of the victims were local people.

"We have had so many fatalities on the roads over the past decades, for many families, this will reawaken the difficulties they faced," she said.

"The immediate concern is for the families, but it will reawaken histories for many people as well."

The Irish prime minister Brian Cowen, on a trip to New York, extended his sympathy to the families of those killed.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of these deaths and I want to extend my sincere sympathies to everyone who lost loved ones," he said.

NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also passed on his condolences to the families of those killed.