Grandfather seriously hurt as car collides with crowds at cemetery

21 July 2019, 17:32 | Updated: 21 July 2019, 21:56

A grandfather has been seriously injured after a car drove into crowds at a cemetery in Dundalk, Co Louth.

Police said a dark green car drove at speed at a number of pedestrians attending the annual Blessing of the Graves ceremony at around 3.40pm on Sunday afternoon.

A man in his 20s, believed to be the driver, was arrested at the scene and is being held in Dundalk Garda station.

The elderly man was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, while a "small number of people suffered superficial injuries".

Footage shared online showed emergency services in attendance as a large crowd gathered - with Father Mark O'Hagan, the priest officiating the ceremony, claiming thousands were in the cemetery.

He said: "I could hear this screaming and shouting. And there was a lot of people running and a lot of people screaming."

The driver sped through the graveyard past the priest towards a car park before reversing towards him and mounting the kerb.

Father O'Hagan added: "I tried to wave at him to try and slow him down or stop him.

"He sped on straight through the people again. It was terrifying."

Another witness, who wanted to be known only as Darren, said he had "never once saw any trouble" in the past 20 years he had been going to the Blessing of the Graves.

"Never saw so many frightened people," he said.

He also praised an unidentified woman who he said used a speaker system to keep the crowd "calm and informed" during the incident.

Sinn Fein councillor Ruairi O Murchu, who was not at the event but spoke to some people who were, said "they were utterly shocked".

He continued: "People are angry. There had been a huge amount of young kids there at the time. People who were very close to where the car sped through were jumping aside."

Police said the car collided with parked cars on the road before stopping when it exited the cemetery.

The force said: "A man in his late 20s, believed to the driver, was arrested at the scene. He is currently detained at Dundalk Garda Station under the provisions of Section 4 - Criminal Justice Act 1984."