aftermath | 

Sister of shooting victim Sinead Connolly says they are still struggling to cope, two years later

‘The shooting took place two days before Leah’s birthday, so, of course it’s at the forefront of our minds’

Leah with Sinead

Dean McCarthy was jailed for 15 years

Orla with Sinead

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The sister of shooting victim Sinead Connolly has revealed how they are still struggling to cope, two years after the brutal gun attack that left the young mother paralysed.

Orla Connolly was speaking on the anniversary of the shooting on March 6, 2021 when her younger sister was gunned down in her flat by neighbour Dean McCarthy.

Last April, McCarthy (33), of Bluebell, was jailed for 15 years after he pleaded guilty to her attempted murder.

Co-accused, Joseph Byrne (33), of La Touche Road, Bluebell, Dublin 12, was jailed for nine-and-a-half years for possession of a G9A Grand Power semi-automatic handgun with intent to endanger life.

And Paul Mooney (35), of Ring Street, Inchicore, Dublin 8, was jailed for six years, with the last 12 months suspended after he disposed of the firearm used in the attempted murder of Sinead.

Dean McCarthy was jailed for 15 years

Despite seeing all three men jailed for their crimes, Orla pointed out that Sinead has been left with life-changing injuries that now require full-time care.

Orla is now carer to her sister and is also looking after Sinead’s young daughter Leah, who was only seven years old when she witnessed the shooting.

Orla said: “The shooting took place two days before Leah’s birthday, so, of course it’s at the forefront of our minds.

“It was the first year Sinead was able to spend some time with Leah on her birthday so obviously she was a bit emotional.

“Leah had said to me on the anniversary, ‘you know, this is the day my mammy got shot. I didn’t want to say anything in front of her;. And I told her, ‘Leah, it’s alright. Are you upset?

“And she sold me, ‘it changed my life, but I’m glad my mammy is still alive’. So that’s going to be etched in her head forever.”

Orla also told how Sinead was reflecting on the fact that two years ago “she was walking around, living her life” when the shooting happened.

“She has her good days and her bad days but we’re still trying to access a lot of services that just aren’t being made available to us for her mental health, like therapy, and psychologists. “She was seen a few times while she was still in the hospital but there’s been nothing since.

“Nobody has checked in on her... There is just no support there. It seem to be that it’s left to the families to try and access these services. I just feel let down and disappointed.

“Two years on and all these things should have been in place for her. She needs to have some sort of normality after all she’s been through​

Orla said they had tried to get Sinead a motorised wheelchair so she could collect Leah from school herself but were told she could be waiting 12 to 18 months.

“These three men that did this to Sinead have all the services and support they need, as they are in the care of the State. So why can’t that be the same for the victims?”

Orla told how Sinead is now out of hospital, St James’s, where she had spent most of her time recovering since the shooting and they have been living together in a house in Ballyfermot since January, where she is now taking care of her and Leah.

“The council have been great and have given us this house until Sinead’s apartment is ready for her to move into. It was a good step in the right direction for Sinead getting out of hospital and we have home help for four hours a day.”

But Orla said they faced further obstacles when her ‘guardianship payment’ she had been receiving for taking care of Leah was cut as they were all now living under the same roof.

“It seems we’ve been left to pick up the pieces, on our own. ”

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