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Emotional reunion Brave shooting victim Sinead Connolly leaves hospital for daughter's Communion

"Since her mum's attack every little bang makes Leah jump"


Sinead and Leah had the chance to spend the night together

Sinead and Leah had the chance to spend the night together

Sinead and Leah had the chance to spend the night together

Mum Sinead Connolly's life was turned upside when she was left paralysed following a shooting at her home more than seven months ago.

Now she has finally been reunited outside hospital with her eight-year-old daughter Leah, who witnessed the gun attack.

Sinead (33) was shot multiple times in the sitting room of her flat at Bernard Curtis House, in Bluebell, Dublin, on the afternoon of March 6.

She was moved from St James's Hospital to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire to treat her life-changing injuries.

However, brave Sinead left the hospital recently to attend her daughter's Communion.

Despite her illness, she insisted on being there for Leah on her big day, though she was not well enough to make it to the Mass.

Instead, mother and daughter were able to spend the night together at Sinead's mother's house in Ballyfermot where they shared a bed the night before.

Sinead organised a horse and ­carriage to take Leah to the church and attended a party afterwards for a few hours before she was forced to return to hospital.

Her older sister Orla said it was an emotional day.


Leah steps from her carriage.

Leah steps from her carriage.

Leah steps from her carriage.

"We didn't tell Leah anything about her mam getting out of ­hospital," Orla said.

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"We just brought her down to my Ma's house and Sinead was there waiting.

"We brought Leah in and it was such a big surprise for her.

"We were recording a video of the moment she walked in but we had to turn it off because Leah started crying. It was emotional for her and for Sinead as well.

"It was the first time they were united outside of the hospital environment in nearly seven months.

"Sinead was too sick to go to the mass. Leah was obviously upset that she couldn't go, but Sinead had organised a horse and carriage and that was amazing.


Sinead and Leah share a hug

Sinead and Leah share a hug

Sinead and Leah share a hug

"Leah didn't have a clue so that was another big surprise, it really did lift her spirits. Leah loves the movie Sofia the First so that's what Sinead did for her.

"It brought Leah down to the church and she was delighted.

"She was waving to everyone, thinking she was a princess.

"She went into the church and then they waited outside to bring her back to Sinead.

"We had a cousin of mine, a photographer, take some pictures so Leah thought she was a star then."

Orla, meanwhile, got Sinead ready to bring her to a party afterwards.

"I did her make-up and her hair and it took about an hour and a half.

"She looked amazing but she was only able to stay for about two hours and then we had to bring her back to the hospital because she was too sick. She really wanted to be there for Leah," Orla explained.

"Sometimes the only thing that keeps her going is Leah.

"Even though she does get depressed some days, it's Leah she thinks of and the future they'll have now, even though she'll have to adapt to whatever her living needs will be."


Leah celebrates her Communion

Leah celebrates her Communion

Leah celebrates her Communion

Orla said Sinead will be moved to St Luke's Hospital in the coming weeks, which the family is hoping is a step in the right direction.

"The rehabilitation centre said they can only do so much," Orla ­added. "Like, she's on an antibiotic now for the next three months ­because she keeps getting sick."

Meanwhile, Leah still suffers the after-effects of the day she saw her mum gunned down, with the noise of bangers and rockets going off coming up to Halloween reminding her of the noise of the gunfire.

"What triggers me is the noise of an ambulance rushing past," Orla said. "And I'm 41 years old.

"So you can imagine how Leah's feeling, if every time there is a bang, she jumps.

"And she's missing her Ma.

"She's seeing other kids with their mas, and saying, 'why did they do this to my mammy'.

"A little eight-year-old should not have to be thinking of things other than what they want for Christmas or what they're going to dress up as, for Halloween.

"And we've been left to fend for ourselves in getting help," Orla added. "You have to look for the services, like therapy, they don't come to you.

Three people are before the courts in relation to the attack.

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