The Creeslough tragedy shook Donegal and the whole country to the core. The tremendous loss of life is a loss that no individual or community can handle.
Arriving at the scene after the explosion, there was an eerie atmosphere that reflected the devastation that had taken place. The effects of the blast could be seen on buildings across the street and further down the street.
Blocks were thrown 40 meters across the street, bouncing off the Homeland Hardware building.
The building was damaged, with doors hanging off hinges and lights hanging from the ceiling, showing the magnitude of the blast.
The site itself was full of rubble and the building was very unstable.
Rescue Services from Northern Ireland had two dogs surveying the scene and infrared devices were used to scan the site for signs of life.
Excavation of the rubble was carried out manually by the emergency response teams and members of the local community.
Before midnight, machines took over the excavation as the site was unsafe. Rescuers then worked all night to recover the remaining bodies.
The skill and professionalism of the emergency services who worked to secure the site and recover the bodies could only be matched by the spirit and determination of the local community that supported them throughout.
I would like to pay tribute to the emergency services personnel who rushed to the crime scene and managed the process with the utmost sensitivity.
Special thanks to the responders from Northern Ireland who stood by their colleagues in Donegal.
Creeslough is a very small community and any member of that community is likely to have lost either a friend, relative, colleague, student or neighbor. Ten people have died and two families have lost two loved ones.
This is tremendous trauma to be felt across the country, but the epicenter is clearly in Creeslough.
The 10 people who lost their lives are between five and 59 years old. Every single one of them was taken way too soon.
The impact of this tragedy is being felt across Donegal as Mulroy College Secondary School has lost two pupils and the mothers of the two pupils.
It is hard to put into words the sadness of these people and there are very tough days ahead as people go back to work and children go back to school.
In the next few days families will bury their loved ones and the whole country will mourn with them. It is important now that as we come together to mourn those who have died, support is created to help the community deal with this trauma.
The HSE Psychosocial Response Team, working with Garda Family Liaison Officers, has deployed an identified support person for each bereaved family.
I know the Creeslough and Donegal community will rally around these families and support them during this time, but the wider community will need support as well. Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed that psychosocial supports will be put in place to support the community and this will be long term.
HSE teams are now on the ground to deal with the acute trauma felt by the people of Creeslough and will remain on the ground to support people as they try to process what has happened.
Each member of the community decides when they are ready to engage with the support they need and a range of advisory aids have been put in place. I urge the community to engage with these backers whenever they feel ready.
This could be the case in the next few days, weeks or even months. Whenever someone from the community wants to seek this support, it will be available.
Over the past two days, residents of Creeslough and Donegal have shown exceptional determination.
They wrapped their arms around each other and comforted and comforted each other as confirmation of the total loss of life was confirmed. Local shops and cafes supplied and served the emergency services and the members of the local community who assisted them.
One thing that has become clear over the past 48 hours is the strength and friendliness of the Creeslough community. The people of Donegal are known for their kindness and generosity and the whole country joins us now as we mourn this tragic event.
Niall Blaney is Senator from Fianna Fáil of Donegal
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/after-the-devastation-and-heroicism-comes-the-healing-for-the-traumatised-people-of-creeslough-42053087.html After devastation and heroism comes healing for the traumatized people of Creeslough