‘Tom is not able to move from his chest down, and there has been no improvement in his condition and no sign of it either. He has been in the ICU for so long now’
Tom Niland (74) has been on life support at Sligo University Hospital since an aggravated burglary at his home on January 18 left him with serious injuries.
His cousin, Michael Walsh, who visits Mr Niland daily and is his closest living relative, said there has been very little progress in his condition.
Mr Walsh told the Sunday World: “I visit him regularly so I see what way he is and he has wasted away.
“Occasionally some of his close neighbours come to visit and they are left very upset after they come out because of the condition he is in.”
Mr Niland is unable to speak but Mr Walsh described his cousin as a “fighter” who attempts to communicate.
“He still does not know what happened. When I ask him he just stares ahead but he is aware of his surroundings and he does nod when I ask him does he know who I am.
“Tom is not able to move from his chest down, and there has been no improvement in his condition and no sign of it either. He has been in the ICU for so long now.”
Mr Walsh said the family has taken comfort in the hundreds of cards from well-wishers both at home and abroad, offering their support and hoping for his cousin’s recovery.
He estimates that the victim has received 300 cards with around 50 of these being sent from people living outside the country.
“People have been very kind to write and a lot of people were moved by what happened to Tom,” he said.
Mr Walsh said Mr Niland will only be discharged from hospital if he can breathe without a ventilator but there is no sign of progress.
Mr Niland received a tracheotomy which involves placing a hole in the front of his neck to assist with his breathing.
Three men from Co Mayo are currently before the courts charged with assault causing serious harm and the false imprisonment of the 74-year-old farmer, as well as aggravated burglary with a knife at his rural home in Skreen, Co Sligo.
Their case is expected to come before the Dublin Circuit Court after an application was made last month to have the case moved from Sligo.
The three defendants are Francis Harman (54) of Nephin Court, Killala Road, Ballina; John Irving (28) of Shanwar, Foxford, and John Clarke (32) of Carrowkelly, Ballina. They are currently in custody.
Mr Walsh is unhappy about the case being moved to Dublin due to the arduous commute that he and his sister will face when they attend the hearings.
“We both have arthritis and would not be looking forward to long journeys up and down to Dublin for court but we will be attending,” he said.
Sligo Circuit Court heard last month that the publicity generated by the case warranted it being moved from Sligo.
The case is not expected to be heard until next year at the earliest.