It’s been a little like the elephant in the room for me all week. Since I first heard of the fire in Omagh, I’ve checked Slugger every day to see what is being said. I am pretty amazed that it was never mentioned or covered by the site.
While I appreciate that much is, and remains speculation at this point in time, we are still potentially dealing with one of the most serious examples of domestic violence seen in Northern Ireland ever. For those who remain unaware of the situation, a family of 7 people died in Omagh last week in a house fire. It was fairly evident from early in the story that things were neither simple nor pleasant. It has since transpired that the father of the household, Arthur McElhill was on the sex offenders register. He has subsequently been depicted as an alcoholic and suffering from depression. It is alleged that McElhill set fire to his home, killing his wife and 5 children.
Northern Ireland seems to have spoken of little else in the past week, and the story has moved from fire officers extolling the virtues of smoke alarms to a deafening silence from those whose job it is to protect the innocent. It really isn’t good enough to dismiss this as a private affair. The safety and welfare of a family were at stake and were not protected. This has moved from being a personal tragedy to a matter that deserves public scrutiny and attention to ensure that the authorities can and must recognize and attempt to prevent such mass family murders in the future.