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Blaze terror Dundalk family 'escaped death' after house was targeted in arson attack

"They’re lucky they’re only dealing with an arson attack and not my family coming out in body bags"

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Nora McDonagh at her family’s home in Dundalk.

Nora McDonagh at her family’s home in Dundalk.

Nora McDonagh at her family’s home in Dundalk.

A family whose home was burnt out in a horror arson attack say they would have been killed but were out at a party at the time of the blaze.

The home in Clann Chulainn Park, in Dundalk, was gutted in the fire on July 17.

Nora McDonagh (26), who lived in the house with her mother Kathleen (50) and other family members, said it was the second arson attack since they moved into the house. They have told the local council they now want to leave the area.

“They’re lucky they’re only dealing with an arson attack and not my whole family coming out in body bags,” Nora said outside the house this week.

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Nora McDonagh says she knows who the man is who set her home on fire.

Nora McDonagh says she knows who the man is who set her home on fire.

Nora McDonagh says she knows who the man is who set her home on fire.

She said a local man admitted to the family that he carried out the attack but he is currently on remand as he awaits trial on unrelated charges.

“He’s grand. He’s getting his three meals a day and his bed and we’re homeless.”

She said the man made threats to her after the attack but she doesn’t know why it was carried out.

“We don’t know who did it the first time. The second time we know exactly who did it. You’re guess is as good as mine [as to why he carried out the attack]. He made a threat to me after this.

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Nora wants the council to re-house the family elsewhere.

Nora wants the council to re-house the family elsewhere.

Nora wants the council to re-house the family elsewhere.

“I was ringing up his family asking why he would do such a thing and he was saying, get her off the phone, if I see her, I’m going to do this and that to her.”

The man is well known in Dundalk for crimes, including aggravated burglary, and was arrested in relation to the arson attack.

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“One man was arrested in relation to this incident and was detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. He was later released without charge and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions,” a Garda spokesman said.

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Nora McDonagh at her family’s home in Dundalk

Nora McDonagh at her family’s home in Dundalk

Nora McDonagh at her family’s home in Dundalk

Nora said the family want to move out of the area and have asked the council to be re-housed somewhere else.

“This is the second time someone has carried out an arson attack at the house. We got this house in June 2017 and never had any issues – but on Paddy’s night 2018 there was a hatchet thrown through the window.

“Around the same time someone wrote ‘tramps out’ on the front of the house. We had to go over it with spray to cover it. Then, in June 2018 someone came through the back of the house and put it on fire.”

The council refurbished the property after the first attack and the family moved back in 2019.

“We didn’t want to come back here. It’s putting us in danger. The house went up before. We don’t really associate with anyone in this street.”

She said the family were not at home during either attack.

“We were at a family party so thankfully no one was in the house at the time. A person came along and put petrol through the letter box and up the stairs.

“When we got here my mam collapsed on her knees and said 'Please God not again'. My mam is 50 and she’s not well over the stress. She has no home to bring her family. She’s in hospital with her heart.”

She said the family have been “sofa surfing” since the attack.

A spokesman for Louth County Council said they are liaising with the family on providing access to a HAP property.

“We continue to facilitate the family and will facilitate their access to a HAP property of their choice. Allocation of a housing unit at this time is not practical.”

The family said they were not fans of gardaí.

Kathleen is currently out on bail for theft and road-traffic offences.

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