Cross-community goodwill for Ardoyne blaze family

Forensics officers at the scene of the Ardoyne blaze
Forensics officers at the scene of the Ardoyne blaze

A clergyman has described a surge of goodwill for the family who were caught in a near-fatal fire in Belfast.

Father Gary Donegan of Holy Cross Parish visited the three victims in the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital, blessing them and offering prayers as they battled for their lives.

He said that both the adults – who are the parents of the young child – had suffered burns and smoke inhalation, with signs of soot still on the father’s body.

The trio are Colum Largey, Christina Duffy, and baby Holly Largey.

They are aged 28, 23, and three months old, respectively, and had been upstairs at the house in Jamaica Avenue, in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, while the fire raged downstairs.

They were all described as “critical” in the wake of the incident.

Whilst this remained unchanged for Christina and Holly early on Sunday evening, Colum had been transferred out of the Intensive Care ward to the High Dependency Unit, and his condition upgraded to “seriously ill”.

Fr Donegan told the News Letter that he had heard of plans to stage some kind of concert to help the family get “back on their feet”.

He added: “A young woman came in who had been given some money from her mum for Easter. She was so upset by what happened, she’d bought a pram and a baby-gro [for the couple].

“There was an anonymous letter left in as well, with £100.

“It just said: ‘From the people of the Shankill Road to the people of the Ardoyne’.

“On Good Friday, from what could have been an awful tragedy – and was an awful incident – so much good came out of it. The neighbours rallying round. The fantastic response, the collective response, from the community to help the family.”

He also said that baby Holly was due to be baptised in the coming weeks.

The fire began on Thursday night. There were no smoke alarms in the home, and the fire may have been burning for some time before being spotted.

Police said investigations into its cause are still ongoing,

They are also probing a separate fire which began in Alliance Parade, just north of Jamaica Street, in the early hours of hours of Saturday. It was believed to be deliberate.

The home was empty at the time. Police were not linking the two blazes.