President Michael D Higgins pays tribute at the funeral of James Flaherty

The people of Creeslough in Co Donegal are showing a great example of solidarity after tragedy, said President Michael D Higgins at the funeral of James Flaherty.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins (right) arrives for the funeral mass of James O’Flaherty (Niall Carson/PA)

He said he takes pride in the efforts of those who took part in the search-and-recovery operation after the blast that killed 10 people in the village on Friday.


“When the funerals are over, it is very, very important that people build on these relationships of solidarity.”


The president returned to Ireland from addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and attended the funeral of victim James O’Flaherty today. He will also attend further funerals.

James O’Flaherty, one of the 10 victims of the explosion at Applegreen service station in the village of Creeslough in Co Donegal (An Garda Siochana/PA)

He said: “I think it is very important what is being revealed now, in the response of the public, the response of the people of Creeslough and the great example they are giving.

“They have a very heavy burden of grief to carry.

“The way they are holding together is a great example. I think it is inspirational, the way people, not just in Donegal, but all over Ireland, have all been responding and being able to reveal their feelings and how their heart has been breaking.

“I think the courage and strength and love of Hamish (O’Flaherty) speaking about his father, Tracey speaking about their relationship, they give great hope.

“When the funerals are over, it is very, very important that people build on these relationships of solidarity.

“Being here and meeting the families – what they are showing us is a great example.”

Mr Higgins described the efforts of the emergency services after the explosion as “unbelievable”.

He said: “It was so impressive how effective, how fast, given that there were different services involved, about how they were all able to work together.

“It was a community of first-line services each doing their very, very best and being able to engage with the public.

“It is something to be very, very proud of.

“Given what people were going to be discovering, I don’t underestimate at all the effect it has had on people.

“They did what was necessary in consideration and in co-operation with each other.

“As President of Ireland, I am very proud of them.”

He hailed the efforts of first responders from Northern Ireland who contributed to the operation.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins attending a funeral for one of the victims of the Creeslough disaster (PA)

He said: “It shows what we share and what are our immediate human instincts of wanting to respond.

“These know no borders whatsoever, and that is the way it should be.

“I think it is really building up what we can share and do together.

“That is the way to go. Very often the instincts of the heart, the instincts of the spirit, are what is important.”