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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C
Eamonn Farrell/ Flowers left near the scene of a crash on the Mountain Road in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, where four young people died in an accident.

Irish Aviation Authority launches investigation into use of drone near scene of Clonmel tragedy

An IAA spokesperson said it was an ‘invasion of privacy and posed a flight safety risk’.

THE IRISH AVIATION Authority has launched an investigation into the use of a drone at the scene of Friday’s crash in Clonmel which claimed four lives.

Eighteen-year-olds Grace McSweeney, Zoey Coffey and Nicole Murphy were heading to a Leaving Cert results celebration event and were being driven by Luke McSweeney, aged 24, when the incident happened.

The funeral details for three of the four victims have since been announced and condolences have poured in from across the country.

In a statement to The Journal, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) expressed its “deepest sympathies to the families and friends of this tragic accident”.

The IAA spokesperson added: “The actions of the drone operator at Mountain Road, Clonmel, Co Tipperary last Friday evening was an invasion of privacy and posed a flight safety risk.

“This activity is also in direct contravention of the drone regulations. Remote pilots and drone operators are required, by European regulation, to avoid areas where an emergency response effort is ongoing.

“This is safety critical as it could hinder possible aerial support and to protect the privacy rights of persons involved in the emergency event.”

The spokesperson confirmed that “an IAA investigation has commenced” and that the IAA is “in contact with An Garda Síochána on the matter”.

Gardaí had criticised the use of a drone at the scene of the crash, with Superintendent Kieran Ruane of Clonmel Garda Station telling reporters over the weekend that it was “difficult” for first responders on the ground to have a drone flying above them.

“I think it’s disrespectful to the families of the deceased, as well as to the first responders,” said Ruane.

“What I would ask is that footage taken by a drone be brought to the investigation team so we can assess it and I would ask our communities and nationally for people not to share such footage,” he added, repeating that such footage is “disrespectful”.

Diarmuid Pepper and Eoghan Dalton