Families of road death victims share their grief

Relatives speak of anger and frustration with justice system at remembrance day event

 

Harrowing stories of grief and lasting pain poured from the families of victims of road deaths at their annual day of remembrance yesterday.

Over 300 people gathered in a midlands hotel for the event, hosted by the Irish Road Victims Association (IRVA).

A poster displayed the faces of 101 victims of recent fatal road crashes. Offered the opportunity to speak, their relatives – fathers, mothers and sibling – took the microphone and described their feelings.

They spoke about the drunk and drugged drivers who killed their loved ones; the drivers using mobile phones or speeding when they killed; and of the hit-and-run drivers.

Several gave vent to feelings that drivers who had killed were not held to account, that justice was not achieved for them or their dead relative.

Road deaths were not being treated by the courts as crimes, said some.

One man remembered the loss of his 26-year-old son.

“A day that brought sadness more terrible that we could ever have thought.”

Many began their remarks by referring to the image of their loved one on the poster – “third row down, sixth in” – as though doing a crossword.

And the victims were not all recent; a woman who read a poem said it was for her loved one “killed 43 years ago and we never got any justice”.

Many recited poems written in remembrance; some sang songs composed especially. A piper played laments; a tenor sang Bring Him Home from Les Miserables.

Twenty-six tables, each with a dozen places, were in a function room of the Bloomfield House Hotel in Mullingar.

In front of each setting a candle was lit for a late relative.

Many of those present shed tears as others spoke, describing their grief. Many who tried to speak were unable.

Comfort

Lucia O’Farrell, whose son Shane was killed by a drunk and drugged foreign national, received a standing ovation for a searing critique of the criminal justice system.

Shane had been killed by a man committing multiple breaches of his bail conditions, and was then was allowed leave the country after conviction.

“We are all part of a club no one wants to belong to,” she said, adding that her child had been shown “massive disrespect” by the Garda Síochána and others in the criminal justice system.

Ms Farrell was one of four victim families to receive an IRVA Light of Hope Award for her campaign efforts on behalf of her son.

Other awards went to Rosanne Brennan for her campaign, on behalf of her late son Jake, for a 20 km/h speed limit in housing estates; Leo Leighed for his campaign over the drink and drugged hit-and-run driver who killed his daughter; and Gillian Treacy for the victim impact statement she made on the death of her son Ciaran.

Ambulance service

DonegalNoel Gibbons

The event was one of a series of Masses and memorial services held in eight counties for the remembrance day.