Tributes paid to former firefighter killed in A1 crash

December 7, 2015

The tragic death of a former Newry-based firefighter in a car accident on Tuesday has prompted an outpouring of sympathy from his former colleagues, politicians and the wider public.

Eugene McNally (57) died when his car was involved in a two-vehicle collision on the A1 between Newry and Loughbrickland around 5.30pm.  Two other men, aged in their 30s, were taken to hospital with non life threatening injures.

Mr McNally, a married father-of-three, had just recently retired from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) after 32 years of service and had held the prestigious post of Watch Commander at the Newry Fire Station.

Described as “kind-hearted” and “selfless”, he had dedicated his working life to saving lives as a committed firefighter.

Leading the tributes to his colleague and close friend, NIFRS Southern Area Commander John Denvir said it was “a very sad day” for the Newry station and NIFRS as a whole.

Offering his sympathy to Eugene’s family, Commander Denvir said: “Eugene was a well-respected colleague who was greatly admired for his dedication to the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service.  Our thoughts are with Eugene’s family at this very sad time. We were all deeply saddened about his death. Eugene was well known within the local area, so his death will be greatly felt across the community,” he said.

Commenting on the tragedy, SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said the community has been “stunned and deeply saddened”.

Offering his sympathy, he said: “Eugene was a man who served this community faithfully over many years as a member of the Fire and Rescue Service.  On many occasions he put his own life on the line to save the lives of others and that only serves to underline the tragedy of his death in a road accident.

“He has been involved in many charitable and community events and gave of his time selflessly in order that others be remembered and respected.  On behalf of the community here in Newry I want to express my deep sorrow to his immediate family and wide circle of friends.”

Former colleagues and members of NIFRS formed a guard of honour as Mr McNally was laid to rest following requiem mass in St. Colman’s Church, Laurencetown on Saturday.  He is survived by his wife Christine, children Linzi, Laura and Paul, grandchildren and wider family circle.

Police investigating the crash have appealed for witnesses to contact them.

PSNI Inspector Stephen Humphries said: “A silver Mazda 3 and blue Volkswagen Caddy were involved in the collision.  I would ask anyone who witnessed those vehicles in the area before the road traffic collision to contact Ardmore police station or the collision investigation unit at Sprucefield on non emergency number 101.”