Family ‘heartened by wave of sympathy’

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SDLP MLA John Dallat supported the family of the Dungiven fireman Joe McCloskey, who died while tackling a blaze in Limavady 10 years ago, when they took their campaign for justice to the opening ceremony of the World Police and Fire Games.

The McCloskey have started a Facebook page called ‘Justice For Joe’ on which they say: “Joe was tragically taken from us on Sunday 2nd November 2003. He was called to a fire at the Gorteen House Hotel Limavady on Halloween night and never returned home.

Almost 10 years on now we are still fighting to find out the truth about that night.”

After the rally in Belfast the family thanked MLA Dallat for his support, and said: “Our concerns regarding the NIFRS were further echoed today from their own employees. Many of them supported us that questions need answered. The Justice for Joe campaign was set up to prevent these firefighters & their families going through what we have been through. Justice for Joe proudly represents brave firefighters all across the world.”

The family attended in order to highlight the tragic death of their father Joe who died while fighting a fire at the Gorteen House Hotel on 31 Oct 2003 and the need for an independent inquiry into the circumstances.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Dallat said: “It was extremely humbling to attend the WPFG opening ceremony along with the McCloskey family and speak to many of the competitors involved.

“The family and I distributed leaflets about the tragic circumstances of Joe’s death and were extremely heartened by the wave of sympathy we received. “It was particularly touching to hear firemen from across the globe express solidarity with the family and support their quest for justice into what happened on the evening of Joe’s death.

“An independent inquiry is a necessity if we are to establish who gave the fatal order for Joe to climb onto a roof which he fell through to his death.“

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, said Mr. Dallat.

“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 for Health is still resisting the call for an independent inquiry,” added Mr. Dallat.