Health board set to fly home US writer who was beaten up

 

The North Western Health Board will fly home the gay American writer who is in a Dublin hospital after being severely beaten in Sligo at the end of January.

Mr Robert Drake (36) was found badly beaten in his flat on Holborn Street in the centre of Sligo on January 31st.

He had suffered head injuries and was transferred by helicopter to Beaumont Hospital the following evening. A hospital spokeswoman said yesterday the writer, who has been in a coma, was stable.

A health board spokeswoman said it had agreed last week to pay for him to be brought to the US. It was not known how much this would cost, she added. The former minister for justice, Mrs Nora Owen, had raised the issue in the Dail last Thursday, asking the Minister for Health, Mr Cowen, if his Department would pay.

Groups in the US had been trying to raise $10,000 to $40,000 to have Mr Drake, who has written a novel and edited four literary anthologies, flown back to the US.

The health board spokeswoman said it was up to Mr Drake's doctors when he would be flown home.

"When they are satisfied he is clinically fit to travel, we will cover the costs."

Two unemployed Sligo men appeared in court last month in connection with the assault. Mr Ian Monaghan (20) of Ashbrook, Pearse Road, and Mr Glen Mahon (21) of Banks Drive, Cranmore, were charged with intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Mr Drake on January 31st.

Mr Mahon was also charged with stealing a leather wallet belonging to Mr Drake, containing a US passport, assorted credit cards and £5 in cash.

Both men were released on bail. Their solicitor told the court they had gone to the gardai and made voluntary statements before being arrested.