Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Soldiers' complaints on fire safety 'ignored'

AN MP yesterday called for a full inquiry into the fire at a Northern Ireland Army base in which three soldiers died, amid claims that complaints from soldiers about safety had been ignored.

The Rev William McCrea, Democratic Unionist Party MP for Ulster Mid, visiting the families of the victims yesterday, heard that soldiers had complained about faulty fire extinguishers and alarms. The widow of one of the men accused the Army of neglect, claiming complaints were made eight years ago.

The soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment - Glen McGowan, 29, from Bushmills, Co Antrim, Rodney Tosh, 21, from Coleraine, Co Londonderry, and William Salters, 23, from Carnmoney, near Belfast - died in the fire at their base at Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, in the early hours of Saturday morning. Eight others were injured, one seriously.

Mr McCrea said: 'I cannot make any judgement as to the specific allegations that are being made, but . . . I think there are very, very serious questions that need to be answered and only a full-scale and independent inquiry will satisfy me that the worries and concerns of these young men and their families are going to be fully listened to.'

The Army declined to answer the allegations and said it would give full assistance to the police investigation into the fire.