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Armagh and Newry road deaths leave communities 'completely stunned'

Communities have been left "completely stunned" after five people died in separate crashes in County Armagh and near Newry in County Down, an assembly member has said.

In Armagh, four people died when their car crashed on the Ballynahonemore Road at 02:10 GMT on Sunday.

They have been named locally as Marina Crilly, Phil Mitchell, Emma Mallon and Keith Morrison.

Separately, a pedestrian in his 40s died in Newry after being hit by a car.

He has been named locally as Gary McLoughlin.

Mr McLoughlin has been described as a keen footballer and huge football fan and Newry club Ashgrove Rovers FC posted a tribute to him on Sunday.

Emma Mallon was described by her employer Mullan's Spar, as a "loved colleague, loyal and a friend to staff and customers".

Fifteen people have been killed on Northern Ireland's roads so far this year.

'Absolutely harrowing'

"It's absolutely harrowing," Sinn Féin MLA Liz Kimmins told BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"The communities have just been left completely stunned by the huge loss of life across Newry and Armagh - it's just devastating," she said.

"I can't even imagine what the families of the five people involved have been going through."

Police car and tape at scene of Ballynahonemore Road crash
The road remained closed following Sunday's crash

DUP MLA William Irwin said people in Armagh are "still in a state of shock" and there is "sheer devastation" at the loss of life.

Mr Irwin added Ms Crilly had a three-year-old son. "That's a child with no mother," he said.

"The boys, they're both in jobs, hard-working lads so it's really, really tragic for the families."

A neighbour who lives close by also tried to help at the scene, Mr Irwin said.

"He realised very quickly there was very little that he could do and that's very traumatic for that family too."

First Minister Michelle O'Neill said it was "heart-breaking" to learn of the five deaths.

'Unspeakable tragedy'

"My heart goes out to the families, friends, and the local communities affected by these awful tragedies," she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly added: "My heart breaks for the grief of their families and friends. What a tragedy."

Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie said it was "incredibly sad news" and his thoughts are with the families of those involved and the emergency services.

DUP MLA William Irwin on the Ballynahonemore Road
DUP MLA William Irwin said everyone is in "a total state of shock"

PSNI Supt Paul McGrattan said the Armagh crash had been an "unspeakable tragedy" for the families involved and for the wider community.

He said the community would "understandably struggle to comprehend such loss of life".

Police said a "thorough and sensitive" investigation was now under way.

Newry 'reeling' after road death

In Newry, Mr McLoughlin was hit by a car at about 22:40 on the Forkhill Road. He was taken to hospital but died a short time later.

In its online tribute to him. Ashgrove Rovers said: "As a club we are devastated to hear about the passing of former player Gary 'Cookie' McLoughlin.

"Cookie was with us for six seasons over two spells and helped the club win its first trophy with him opening the scoring in the cup final.

"He definitely will go down as a club legend as you always knew when he was around you were guaranteed a laugh and good time.

"We would like to pass on our condolences to his entire family circle at this heart-breaking time."

Ms Kimmins described him as a "well-known and respected" individual.

"Just seeing the outpouring of messages over the last 24 hours or more shows just how the community is feeling. They're absolutely reeling from the news," she added.