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information appeal RTÉ star Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh will never forget sister's screams after cousin's tragic death

Páraic Coffey was left to die on the side of a country road when he was struck by a car while walking home from a disco in Athboy, Co Meath at about 3am on June 9, 1996

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Blathnaid ni Chofaigh

Blathnaid ni Chofaigh

Blathnaid ni Chofaigh

RTÉ presenter Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh has revealed she will never forget the screams of her sister when hearing their beloved cousin had been killed in an unsolved hit and run 25 years ago.

The Nationwide host has now rowed in behind a family appeal to find out what happened on the night Páraic Coffey was left to die on the side of a country road.

The 18-year-old was walking from a disco in Athboy, Co Meath, to his home in the close-knit Gaeltacht community of Rathcairn, Co Meath at about 3am on June 9, 1996 when he was struck by a car.

The vehicle was never found, despite exhaustive investigations by gardaí.

Many leads were followed by gardaí and endless appeals by family to find his killer failed to yield any answers for his parents Patrick and Judy and siblings Gerard, Sean, Caitriona and Cormac who have resolved never to give up looking for justice for the teenager.

Twenty-five years on and Bláthnaid has joined her family in an emotional appeal to find closure and ensure that Páraic can finally rest in peace.

She said she would never forget her sister screeching on hearing the news that their cousin had died.

"I'll never forget that 5am phone call. My sister Máire was staying with myself and my husband at the time and I'll never forget her screeching," she said.

"All the cousins were very close and we all played with each other growing up. When we came back to Meath from Canada and Judy and Patrick came back from England, we all lived near each other in Trim.

"Cormac and Páraic were the younger ones and my mother minded them so we knew them well and they were great craic.

"When I had my youngest boys Darach and Comghal, everyone used to comment on how they were the spit of their cousins Cormac and Páraic.

"When Páraic died, I was pregnant with my eldest child Sile who will be 25 years old in September so it was a very poignant time and I remember walking from the house behind the hearse and Judy being very emotional and protective about the baby.

"I remember not understanding what had happened, even though I was an adult, until he was laid out in the coffin and touching his hand, it felt so fragile.

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"There was a strange eeriness because we didn't know any young people who had died before.”

She said it was a horrific time.

"I can still hear Judy crying and the silence from Patrick. He didn't speak. He couldn't. It was really awful.

"It's bizarre in my line of business but I remember reading about Páraic's death in the paper and feeling it was very intrusive.

"Even now, I go out of my way to pass the spot where he was killed because I want to remember him.

"The local road he was killed on was always used by young people to walk home from nights out in Athboy. I often walked it with friends and the lads thought nothing of walking home on it by themselves."

Although 25 years have passed, Bláthnaid admits she remains hopeful that someone will feel the need to clear their conscience and help the family get the answers they desperately need.

"I remain optimistic. I keep thinking anytime now, any day now, someone will walk into a garda station with information. Someone out there must be suffering with the weight of this secret on their shoulders.

"You can't hit a person with a car and not know. Even if you hit a pebble with a car, you can tell.

"Páraic should have had a full life. He should have had a family. He should have fallen in and out of love and led a life of travel.

"I can still see him having the craic. He never sat still. He was always laughing so much. If you met Páraic you would never forget it.

"I was talking to his brother Sean in New York the other night and we laughed so much at memories of him.

The RTÉ star believes the Coffey family won't be able to fully move on until they know what happened to Páraic that night and why the occupant of the car couldn't stop to stay with him until help arrived.

"Nothing has been resolved for the family. It's like having a wound that never heals and I remember Judy once saying she had a hole in her heart now.

"Judy and Patrick wake up with it and go to bed with it every day. Their life has been put on permanent pause until they can find out how Páraic was killed.

"I still believe in people. I still believe someone can help. We don't know what happened that night. If someone had stopped, Páraic still might have died but maybe his parents might have had an opportunity to say goodbye.

"Forgiveness can only happen with closure. For the sake of the family and the community, I would ask anyone who knows anything to help heal this massive, massive wound.

"It's not going to bring Páraic back but not knowing is too cruel and it's been too cruel for too long. Please let the family finally be able to really celebrate his life."

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