Church leaders ‘open’ to holding vigil for Fermanagh fire victims

Father Gerry Alwill
Father Gerry Alwill

Religious leaders in south Fermanagh have said they would be open to holding a vigil in remembrance of those who died in the house fire in Derrylin – provided the family of the victims deems it to be appropriate.

Father Gerry Alwill, parish priest of Knockninny which covers Derrylin, said the tragedy has stunned the tight-knit community.

“While the victims were relatively new to the area and were not well-known to locals, when something like this happens it is difficult for the entire community to come to terms with,” he told the News Letter.

“What makes it even harder for people to bear is that it is believed the fire was started deliberately, and that a child was apparently among the dead.”

Three people are confirmed to have perished in the blaze, and police are exploring the possibility of a fourth victim.

It is understood the family is originally from Doncaster in England, and had previously lived in the Republic of Ireland before moving to Derrylin about 18 months ago.

Fr Alwill said it is not known to which denomination – if any – the dead people belonged.

When asked if there are currently any plans for a service in memory of the victims, the parish priest said he had discussed the issue with Rev Alastair Donaldson, minister in the area’s Anglican parish.

“We have talked about it and we would both certainly consider some kind of joint service, but only if the family indicates that is something they would approve of,” he added.

Rev Donaldson said: “A vigil could be helpful for local people to help them come to terms with what has happened.

“For those neighbours who had tried to rescue the family from the fire, it must have been particularly harrowing.

“The victims do not appear to have any other family ties in this area, and it is unusual that this family was not well-known in such a closely-knit community.

“But the local Christian community will be praying for their loved ones and offering our help in whatever small way we can.”