A minister and local TD said that there was ‘a cloud’ over the town of Clones as the details of the tragedy were confirmed.
Two teenage girls who died in a Co Monaghan crash while on the way to a Debs event have been named as 16-year-old Dalava Mohammed and 17-year-old Kiea McCann.
The principal of Largy College, the school the teenage girls had attended, said “profound sadness and grief” had engulfed their school, while a minister from the area said it represented “every parent’s worst nightmare”.
Three other people, all believed to be in the same car, were also taken to hospital on Monday evening.
An 18-year-old woman who was taken to Cavan General Hospital is now in a critical but stable condition, Gardai said.
A 60-year-old man remains in a critical condition in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital.
An 18-year-old man is receiving treatment for non-life-threatening injuries at Cavan General Hospital.
The scene on the N54 Clones to Smithborough road at Legnakelly was closed overnight and remains closed, and Gardai are appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the collision.
A vehicle that had remained at the scene has been removed.
Principal Sharon Magennis expressed her “deepest sympathies” to the families and friends of the two girls killed in the crash.
Ms Magennis said in a statement: “It is with profound sadness and grief that we have learned about the devastating accident that resulted in the untimely and tragic loss of two cherished members of our school community.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends who have tragically lost loved ones.
“The other individuals involved in the accident also remain in our thoughts and prayers at this time.
“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the emergency services and Gardai who responded swiftly to the incident.
“Our priority now is the wellbeing and welfare of the students, parents and staff at this difficult time.
“The Largy College critical incident team has met to co-ordinate a response and to enact the critical incident plan.
“We are grateful to the public for their deeply felt expression of support and ask that we be given the time and space to concentrate on supporting those in the school community who are most in need.”
Visiting Largy College on Tuesday, Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said it was “a very sad day for Clones”.
“There’s a cloud over the town now and people just feel so upset and just numb by the tragedy that occurred last night.”
Ms Humphreys, who is from Co Monaghan, added: “It’s not easy because up in The Diamond (town square in Clones), the children last night all got ready, the girls especially were in their dresses and they were all ready for a great night out and it all, unfortunately, ended in tragedy.”
She said she had met some of the staff of the school.
“It is every parent’s worst nightmare because nobody expects to get that phone call.
“One of the parents was on the football field last night and she got the call to go.
“It’s just the shock and to think that this could happen to any child. And I know that many parents across the country are thinking all our children going to Debs, they start off a night full of fun and joy and then it ends up in tragedy.
“My heart goes out to them and they are in all our thoughts and prayers.”
Sinn Fein TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Matt Carthy, told the PA news agency: “It was just one of those moments where time stops still.
“The local community here, as they do, rallied immediately offering support for the families, in the immediate instance to the young people who were attending the Debs.
“You can imagine the scenes in many houses and gatherings in advance of that as young people were getting dresses and make-up and hair and suits and all the things that you associated with what should be a very special occasion, and then they arrived, in some instances, to the Westenra Hotel not aware of what had happened – to learn that two of their friends had passed away and that others were in critical conditions in hospital.”