Bereft parents call for action over random attacks
‘After 29 months and 21 gruelling court appearances, just one person was convicted of his manslaughter’
Andrew Dolan’s parents, Joe and Rosie, at his graveside in Ardcarne Cemetery , Co Roscommon. Photograph: Brian Farrell
The mother and father of a young man who died after an unprovoked assault have called for an end to the random violence which they say is occurring “with alarming frequency every weekend in Ireland”.
Joe and Rosie Dolan, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, yesterday criticised what they described as “almost a social acceptance” of such violence. They were speaking after a sentencing hearing at Tullamore Circuit Court.
The couple said their son Andrew (20) died “after being cruelly hunted up the street”. CCTV footage showed he had neither raised his voice nor hands but had pleaded with his attackers, they added.
Ms Dolan and another bereaved mother, Dolores Tynan, from Johnstown, Co Kilkenny, whose son James (25) also died in an unprovoked street attack, say they are willing to go into schools to tell young people about how lethal even one blow to the head can be.
The Dolans expressed frustration with the legal process, saying it had failed Andrew, themselves “and everyone who walks the streets at night”.
While three people were originally charged with manslaughter, “after 29 months and 21 gruelling court appearances, just one person was convicted of his manslaughter”. The Dolans described the court process as “hell on earth”, saying they had wrongly assumed it would be relatively straightforward.
Jessica Hughes, Rathwire, Killucan, and Patrick Daly, Mulphedder, Clonard, Co Meath, were sentenced respectively for assault and assault causing harm. Both had been found not guilty of manslaughter. A third defendant, Patrick Farrell, Cornamuckla, Broadford, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter is serving a 3½ year sentence.
Mr Dolan was assaulted outside a Mullingar fast-food shop after attending a 21st birthday party on December 23rd, 2011. He died on New Year’s Day 2012. The family said they did not hate those involved in the attack. “That would not have been Andrew’s way either. Actually, we feel for their families for the pain and shame that they have brought upon them.”
Ms Dolan said she believed she should speak out and warn other young people about the consequences of a blow to the head . “If Andrew had lived he would no longer be our Andrew as we found out he had lost some brain tissue during the operation to ease the swelling and remove clots.”
A month after Mr Dolan’s death, Ms Tynan and her husband Pascal received a late-night call telling them to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. “There was silence in the car. I prayed all the way,” said Ms Tynan. James was unconscious when his parents arrived at Clonmel hospital on February 19th, 2012.
Ms Tynan visits her only son’s grave every day and sometimes twice a day. “A week before he died, he told me as he was washing his hands at the kitchen sink, that he had never been so happy”. She added: “Every night I lie on his bed and talk to him.”
The Dolans said they had always told their three sons to walk away from trouble. “Now we wonder if Andrew had fought back would he still be alive, but that would make him like those who attacked him,” said his father.
Now there is an empty place at the kitchen table. Andrew’s bedroom is untouched, his pyjamas neatly folded on the pillow. Yesterday his parents asked: “How many more innocent young people must die or suffer life-changing injuries and how many more families must be ruined before someone cries stop? In God’s name, can someone call a halt to this senseless carnage?”