At 7 a.m. on Friday morning, I was awakened by the news of the €8.9 million lotto win in Duleek, my town. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, the chatter was all about who had won the money and the rumours of the winners swarmed around the town with great excitement. However, about 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., it went quiet as reports came in about Creeslough. No more talk of the lotto winners. Our hearts and tongues stood still, awaiting the news of the tragedy. Hour by hour, we were briefed on the rescue, the battles of the emergency services and the many parishioners who did everything they could to recover those ten bodies. To all the people of Creeslough and the neighbouring parishes, I want to thank you for how you stepped up to support the emergency services, for all those cups of tea and for the offers of accommodation for everybody who came their way. What can we say? No words will comfort their pain. I spoke to Independent Councillor Michael McClafferty and Councillor John O'Donnell on Saturday morning. Both were on the scene at the time, trying to support their people of Creeslough as best they could.
Creeslough will never be the same. Nowhere ever is after something like this. Healing from such a deep wound takes time. However, we must give hope to the families of the victims. In the weeks ahead, we must make sure that we provide supports and counselling for the families and for the emergency services. They need care and they need to talk about the trauma, what they witnessed and how they are going to deal with the pain and the loss. There are never days without pain, there is never laughter without sorrow, there is no sun without rain. Please God, this dark cloud will be lifted by the hearts of this nation and the people of Creeslough will feel the nation wrap its arms around them at this time.