A family's final hours

The three children who were found dead in their home in Newcastle, West Dublin, on Friday evening were discovered by their father after he returned home from work.

Gardai believe that Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3) McGinley died sometime between Friday afternoon and around 7pm that evening.

Their father, Andrew McGinley, arrived home to find his distraught wife being treated by ambulance personnel at their home in Parsons Court. He went into the house to discover one of his children downstairs and the other two in an upstairs room.

Informed sources say the children were dressed in their day clothes. It is understood that the boys were at school earlier that day. The older boy, Conor, was collected earlier than usual by his mother at around lunchtime.

The children’s mother was seen by neighbours in a distressed state later that evening on a road close to her family home. A taxi driver dropped her home. Neighbours said she collapsed on the ground and an ambulance was called.

Her husband arrived a short time later, followed by members of An Garda Siochana.

Garda believe the children did not die of natural causes.

The children’s bodies were removed from the house yesterday morning.

They were placed in waiting ambulances to be taken to the city morgue for post-mortems to establish how each of them died.

According to one Garda source, one line of inquiry is that the children may have been sedated, possibly by injection, and died of a lethal overdose or by suffocation.

The McGinley family were relatively recent arrivals at Parsons Court. They are believed to have moved there last year. Deirdre Morley, the children’s mother, is a nurse who worked at Crumlin Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

A local man, who knows the family, said the McGinley children used to play with his children: “This is a huge loss. We liked them straight away. They were lovely, normal people and now we just can’t understand what has happened.”

His partner said: “Conor was nine years old, almost 10, and Darragh was seven, almost eight. They were lovely boys,” she said. “Their mother liked to take walks with her little girl. She was at home a lot with the children.”

Fr Kevin Doherty celebrated a special Mass at St Finian’s Church, Newcastle, yesterday.

Fr Doherty told the Sunday Independent afterwards that when grief comes to a family or community it can “leave a calling card of darkness and disillusionment.”

The community of Newcastle is a larger family that has suffered a very tragic loss, he said. No words are adequate but the presence of the people together in the church is important – “We pray especially for all parents and children,” he said. Darkness has come, “but the light is among us… each of us can be light to the other.”

A book of condolences lay open at the back of the church. Many of the messages were simple, direct and poignant: ‘Spread your wings, Little Angels, rest in peace’; ‘Rest easy, baby girl, you were always our angel’; ‘God bless you, Little Angels’; and ‘RIP Little Angels. You are with God now and He will look after you.’

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