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Man dies swimming across Bessbrook Pond ‘in attempt to remove tricolours’

A man believed to be in his 60s has died while attempting to swim across Bessbrook Pond this evening (Monday).

Newry and Armagh SDLP Assemblyman Dominic Bradley said he understood the man had tried to swim across as he had intended to remove two Irish tricolour flags.

They had been placed on an island in the pond last week and led to calls by Newry and Mourne Mayor Daire Hughes for their removal, while Newry and Armagh UUP MLA Danny Kennedy, who is from Bessbrook, had said their placement at the pond had been design to try and create tension.

Emergency services were called to the scene just before five o’clock tonight and the victim was taken to nearby Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, where he tragically died.

Commenting on the tragedy, Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin MLA  Mickey Brady offered his deepest sympathy to the family of the deceased.

“The terrible news at the loss of a life at Bessbrook pond is tragic,” he said. “A family is grieving tonight and a community is in shock.”

Danny Kennedy, Ulster Unionist MLA for Newry & Armagh, has extended his sympathy to the family of victim Oswald Bradley.

Mr Kennedy said: “This is a real tragedy. It is devastating news for the family involved and the whole village of Bessbrook. First and foremost my thoughts and prayers are with the Bradley family. The entire Bessbrook community will join with me in showing our sympathy and support for the whole family circle.

“I spent the evening with the family at Daisy Hill Hospital and they are totally devastated as they try to come to terms with the enormous shock of these tragic events. Oswald was highly respected and liked within the Bessbrook community. I counted him as a personal friend and I am deeply upset by his untimely and tragic death.

“On behalf of the family I would like to like to thank the Emergency Services, the Ambulance Service and Police and all those at the scene who rendered assistance. Attempts were made to save his life at Bessbrook Pond, but unfortunately it was all in vain.

“This is a very tragic outcome to controversies surrounding flags in this village. This is too high a price for any family and community to pay.”

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