Mother of dead teenager calls on Gemma O’Doherty to remove image from website

Edel Campbell ‘devastated’ her son’s photograph has been included in an article purporting to link Covid-19 vaccines with sudden deaths

The mother of a Co Cavan teenager who died by suicide has called on Gemma O’Doherty to remove his image from an article in The Irish Light, a free newspaper claiming to publish the “uncensored truth”. O’Doherty is the editor of the free sheet, which has published a number of anti-vaccination articles.

One of the images used to accompany an article purporting to link sudden deaths to Covid-19 vaccines is that of 18-year-old Diego Gilsenan from Kingscourt who took his own life in August 2021. Mr Gilsenan’s mother, Edel Campbell, told RTÉ's Drivetime on Wednesday that the use of his photograph was “devastating” and that it had “ripped the heart clean out of me again”.

She said Ms O’Doherty’s use of her son’s image had turned her life “completely upside down”. His photograph is one of 42 published alongside an article purporting to link Covid-19 vaccines to premature deaths. Others whose images were used include Sligo footballer Red Óg Murphy, who died by suicide in April, and Galway camogie player Katie Moran, who died from a head injury sustained during a club match in April.

“I can’t think of anything but it,” Ms Campbell told RTÉ. “To think someone could use my son – and so many other children – to push the reason why she thinks they died. It’s devastating to think someone could hate me and 41 other parents to do this to them.”


Ms Campbell said Ms O’Doherty had taken her son’s photograph from without permission, describing her son’s inclusion in the publication as “horrific” and “disgusting”.

“She never contacted me,” she said. “She never asked me. She doesn’t know Diego’s circumstances.”

Ms Campbell said she had made a number of requests to have her son’s image removed from the freesheet’s website.

“All I want for her is to say sorry – just to apologise to me and the other families – and take it off her paper,” she said. “Take pictures of my son off all her social media. And for her to stop using him, please.”

Ms Campbell said she has failed to force Ms O’Doherty to remove the image.

“If that was your son or daughter, would you be happy about it? Would you let her away with it? It’s not OK. She can’t get away with this – you cannot harm 42 families and get away with it. The system can’t work like that,” Ms Campbell said.

“I know this will be online forever and that’s something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. I have had sleepless nights for the last 16 months, but more so for the last month. It’s hard – it makes a hard situation even wore. Diego didn’t deserve this, nobody deserves this,” she said.

The Irish Light has been contacted for comment.