Five killed in weekend of carnage on roads

November 25, 2008

Five people have been killed in two separate car accidents in Newry and Mourne in what has been described as a weekend of the worst carnage ever witnessed on the area’s roads.

Early on Sunday morning, four police officers were killed in a crash on the main Warrenpoint to Rostrevor Road, while a 45-year-old woman died following a three car pile-up on the Forkhill Road, outside Meigh, late on Friday evening.

The PSNI officers were on duty at the time of the accident on the Moygannon Road which happened around 4.00am.  It is believed they were on their way to help colleagues who had requested assistance when the Mitsubishi Shogun 4 x 4 they were travelling in veered across the road, spinning 180 degrees before smashing into a bridge and bursting into flames.

Later today police will examine the black box  in the Shogun to determine what actually led to the catastrophic accident but have confirmed  that the vehicle did not use any self-locking mechanism as it was earlier believed the victims may have been trapped inside the vehicle.

The four officers were named as Kevin Gorman (24) from Drumaness, James Magee (27) from Newcastle, Kenny Irvine (32) and Declan Greene, aged in his thirties, both from Kilkeel.

Kevin Gorman had just recently become the father of a baby girl and was a keen sportsman, having played soccer for Meadowvale and Gaelic for St Colman’s club in Drumaness.

Kenny Irvine, a part-time officer from Ballyveagh outside Kilkeel, was married to Andrea and had one child.  He was a well-known community activist and deeply involved in sport in the local area.

Declan Greene was aged in his thirties and is a member of the wider family circle of which three generations were killed in a fishing accident in the Irish Sea seven years ago.  

He worked in B/E Aerospace factory and was employed as community officer in the evenings.  Mr Greene was also involved in Ballymartin GFC.

His colleague James Magee lived in Newcastle and was a full-time officer.

A local resident said he had been wakened by a loud bang as the vehicle smashed against the wall and burst into flames.

“I started to hear the sound of what sounded like bullets exploding inside the vehicle. When a second police car arrived on the scene, a distressed police colleague tried to open the door but was unable to,” he said.

This tragic incident was preceded by another fatal accident just 30 hours earlier when 45-year-old Ms Teresa McGovern, from Greenfield Park in Newry, died following a collision involving three cars on the Forkhill Road just outside Meigh village.

Teresa is the daughter of Terry and Marie McGovern and sister of Roisin, Michael, Kevin and the late Josephine.  Her funeral Mass will take place later today (Monday) in St Mary’s Church, Chapel Street with interment following in the adjoining cemetery.


On Sunday morning Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde visited the scene where the four police officers lost their lives.  He said he was “shocked” at what he had seen, and at the loss suffered by both the families of the men and the PSNI.

Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, who is responsible for the PSNI’s rural region, said, “We feel this loss keenly and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those police officers.  At this time we also remember the other families bereaved tragically this weekend as a result of road traffic collisions.”

Mayor of Newry and Mourne, Colman Burns said the fatalities witnessed on our roads over the weekend had caused “great shock and sadness throughout the community.”

 “The latest fatalities, in which four PSNI officers have been killed on top of news of the death of a 45 year old woman from the Newry area on Friday night, all through road traffic incidents, has caused great shock and despair throughout the community. Our thoughts and prayers must primarily be with the families and friends of those killed who presently are trying to come to terms with such dreadful news,” he said.

SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley said the whole community was shocked by the news and offered his sincere sympathy to the families of the deceased officers and to the family of the lady who was the victim of the fatal accident at Meigh.

“A death in the family is a huge blow at any time but particularly so in the approach to the Christmas period.  The sympathy of the whole community is with the families at this very sad time and I know that friends and neighbours will do all possible to comfort and console them,” he said.

Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Assembly Party, Danny Kennedy MLA, expressed his profound shock and sorrow and said the “loss will be felt by the immediate family and relatives of the four officers and I want to assure them of all our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.”