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ANDREW WRITES... Andrew McGinley: I'm so thankful for everyone's support to allow these legacy projects to succeed

On the anniversary of his children's death, Andrew McGinley shares his plans for legacy projects and calls for changes to Mental Heath Act

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Andrew with Conor, Carla and Darragh

Andrew with Conor, Carla and Darragh

Andrew with Conor, Carla and Darragh

"Ah sure I'm grand.

"I'm fine, still standing at least.

"I'm alright, powered on by three wee bundles of energy."

These are some of the fibs I've told people in the past two years since January 24, 2020. I'm sorry, but I don't think any of you want to know the truth about how I really am.

Within hours of Conor, Darragh and Carla dying I began to think about the promises that I had made to them that I hadn't gotten round to keeping.

The initial one was Conor's Clips, which was already in progress.

It was going to be a YouTube channel of short comedy clips which Conor had begun writing. We just hadn't gotten round to filming them but would have started after we had several more sketches written. We were so nearly ready to go.

I still would have done Twitter and Instagram with Conor to promote Conor's Clips and what you see on Twitter is my thoughts about what Conor would have written. Aside from the odd comment about the Mental Health Act and RTE, of course.

You'll find us as Conor's Clips on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram and it's where you'll find everything about the other legacy projects too.

Snowman for Carla was the next legacy project. Carla loved snowmen and she loved colouring so initially I thought about chocolate snowmen in packaging that could be coloured in.

My fear was being left with 10,000 snowmen after Christmas so I was delighted when the Irish Independent stepped forward to sponsor the competition in their paper and online. Over 2,500 entries later the final winner was agreed by Carla's friends, Saibh, Eva and James.

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Finally, came the charity As Darragh Did.

When I thought about Darragh, all I could think about was how he was involved in everything locally from St Mary's gaelic to Rathcoole Football Club, Commercials hurling to the drama club.

Anything that was going on, then Darragh wanted to be involved in it and to participate. The charity I've set up in his memory is focussed on getting people involved and to participate, as Darragh did.

As Darragh Did are seeking applications for funding so if you're with a knitting circles or a rugby club, a drama group or hikers and bikers we'd like you to know about us.

If you are encouraging people to get involved then we'd like to help and you'll find the application form on asdarraghdid.ie

We have just finished our annual fundraiser where the winners of our raffle have won tickets to an exclusive Daniel O'Donnell concert in June of this year.

We are eternally grateful to Daniel and his team for helping us and I'm thrilled that he is doing this for us.

You can also sign up as a monthly donor through the website and this enters you into our quarterly prize draw. Last quarter we gave away a signed, match-worn Liverpool jersey from Jordan Henderson along with some memorabilia from Jordan too.

Our next draw will be on March 31 so sign up to be in with a chance to win, safe in the knowledge that your donation with be helping a community project in Ireland.

None of this works, however, unless people support us and I'm so thankful for everyone's support to allow these legacy projects to happen and succeed. It's up to me to keep their memories alive and to let you all know that you once shared this world with these three magnificent kids, Conor, Darragh and Carla.

There is an opportunity with the proposed Amendments to the Mental Health Act coming before the Oireachtas soon to ensure that treatment and care for mental health patients improves.

These amendments in their current format are akin to a reshuffling of the deckchairs on the Titanic with some additional backside covering added in. However, they haven't been voted on yet so there is still an opportunity for them to be more patient centric as opposed to the glorified administrative checklist that they appear to be.

I believe that there are four key areas that need to be addressed: Proactive Encouragement for Family Inclusion; Capacity and Decision Making; Breaking Confidentiality and Social Prescription.

Una Butler raised many of these issues back in 2010 following the deaths of her beautiful daughters Ella and Zoe. She campaigned tirelessly to many within the Oireachtas to seek a more inclusive and collaborative approach with families of mental health patients.

Alas, nothing has changed. The lessons which should have been learned from the sad loss of Ella and Zoe should have led to changes in the Mental Health Act back then. This in turn would have prevented the deaths of Conor, Darragh and Carla. I say that with certainty.

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