Campaigning teenager to donate injury award to sister’s education

Terminally-ill youth who spoke against suicide described as ‘a beacon of light’

Donal Walsh from Blennerville, Co Kerry.  Photograph: Eye Focus

Donal Walsh from Blennerville, Co Kerry. Photograph: Eye Focus

Sat, Apr 27, 2013, 06:00

Anne Lucey

in Killarney

Gravely ill teenager Donal Walsh has been awarded over €15,000 after he was knocked off his bicycle last September while cycling near Milltown, Co Kerry.

The 16-year-old, who has come to prominence in recent weeks for campaigning against youth suicide, has asked that the money go towards his older sister’s education, the Circuit Civil Court in Killarney heard yesterday.

The teenager, who has an inoperable cancer and has spoken out about the importance of cherishing life, was described by presiding Judge Pauline Codd yesterday as “a beacon of light”.

The matter was before the court to approve an assessment by the Personal Injuries Board. A suit against the driver of a car and another named person had been brought to the board on the minor’s behalf by his father Fionnbar, the court was told.

Barrister Katie O’Connell outlined how Donal, of Hare Street, Blennerville, Tralee, had been cycling on the main Milltown road on September 10th when a car coming from a minor roadway collided with him on his left side. He had been knocked to the ground and was taken to A&E at Kerry General Hospital where X-rays showed soft tissue injury.

There was evidence also of fractured ribs, but this was most likely from previous surgery, Ms O’Connell said.

He had been put on pain relief and was told healing would take two to three weeks. He found it difficult to lift and carry and his balance co-ordination was affected.

“For one month there was significant discomfort. Donal’s life is valuable. A month to him is a long time,” Ms O’Connell said.

Fionnbar, Donal’s father who was in court had accepted the offer, she said.

Reading the PIAB’s report , Judge Pauline Codd noted injuries were soft tissue to his left chest and upper abdomen. She approved the order of €15,454.99 — comprising €15,000 general damages for pain and suffering and special damages for the cost of the bicycle of over €400 as well as application fees of €45 to the injuries. board.

The judge also awarded costs to the plaintiff.

“Donal doesn’t have a lot of time left. If money is to be paid out, the money would be put into an account for Donal’s sister’s education — that’s what Donal wants. He wants it to go to her education in the future,” Ms O’Connell said.

Judge Codd directed the money in its entirety go to an account held jointly by Donal’s mother Elma and his sister Jema.

Turning to Donal’s father, who was sitting in court Judge Codd said: “I wish Donal all the best. He is a beacon of light.”

The National Office for Suicide Prevention is working with the Kerry teenager and his family to see how his appeal to young people against suicide may be utilised further. A video is been made to help publicise the campaign, his family said this week.