The family of a Dungiven firefighter who died while on duty at a hotel blaze almost a decade ago, have lobbied for an independent inquiry into his death at the opening of the World Police and Fire Games in Belfast.
Joe McCloskey died while tackling a fire at the Gorteen Hotel in Limavady on October 31, 2003. Yesterday, members of his family from Dungiven travelled to the official opening of the World Police and Fire Games to lobby support for an independent inquiry into Firefighter McCloskey’s tragic death.
Recently the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety Edwin Poots dashed the family’s hopes after they won the support of the Public Accounts Committee which is conducting an inquiry into senior management in the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
Joe’s widow Marie and her family stood outside the King’s Hall with their banner, ‘Justice for Joe’, distributing leaflets calling for an independent inquiry to establish who ordered the dad of five onto a roof which he fell through to his death.
The family were accompanied by SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat who has been supporting the family in their campaign to establish the facts which led to Joe’s death.
Mr Dallat said: “This campaign cries to Heaven for justice and this family will not give up until someone takes the very brave step of ordering an independent inquiry which I believe will provide an opportunity for witnesses to tell the truth about the circumstances in which Joe McCloskey plunged to his death.
“The family have the support of Assembly members from all political parties and are supported by the Public Accounts Committee as well as the Health Committee but, astonishingly the Minister is still resisting the call for an independent inquiry.
“Recently both the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Dr Joe McKee and the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety Dr Andrew McCormick stated publicly at meetings of the PAC that they would not stand in the way of an independent inquiry.
“I am supporting this campaign because I believe the original inquiries were seriously flawed, were not independent and failed to establish the facts which surrounded the death of a very brave fireman who lost his life unnecessarily.
“The McCloskey family are dedicated to the men and women who courageously serve in the NIFRS and they look forward to their support and that of fire officers from all over the world.”