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Thursday 18 September 2014

Fundraiser launched to help Dublin widower keep family home

Clare Cullen & Jane Last

Published 09/08/2014 | 18:53

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Danny and their three children - Sophie , Scott and Stacey

Support has been pouring in for the widowed father of three who faces losing his home.

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A Facebook page set up to show support to Danny O'Connor and his young family has attracted over 6,000 likes - and all are showing their support for their family.

Ashling O'Connor died six years ago leaving behind her husband Danny and their three children - Sophie (8), Scott(3) and Stacey (1).

Speaking to Independent.ie on Friday, Dublin widower Danny O'Connor told his heartbreaking story, almost certain in the knowledge that "nothing can be done".

However, things changed following the publication of the article.

Supporters rallied on the Independent.ie Facebook page and comments flooded in asking for a link to donate to Danny's cause.

The 'Save the O'Connor Family Home' page was then set up by Pamela Burke with an accompanying donation page here.

An overwhelmed Danny posted a message to the Facebook page thanking everyone.

"Pamela Burke was letting me now the amount of messages and comments everybody was leaving on the page.

"It's amazing. I'm shocked and so happy for all your support brings a tear to my eye

"I really appreciated and I'm starting to look through all your comments and messages.

"I'm feeling very very strong now known [sic] I have my army behind me."

Pamela Burke, the person who set up the Facebook page, told Independent.ie: "There are so many people in the same sitution. We are receiving such overwhelming support from the public."

"We are in the process of organising a meet night for people in the same situation. We will be  inviting organisations, politicians, insurance companies and supporting members of the public to come along to have their say and give advice to the families."

Danny previously told Independent.ie how he has been fighting his wife's insurance company for almost six years with the help of the Ombudsman, but recently received the news that the State body can "no longer help" him.

Ashling went into hospital with "pains in her bones" and doctors thought she may have lupus, although she was never officially diagnosed with the disease. She was in St. James' Hospital  for a couple of weeks before contracting pneumonia and being moved to the ICU and placed on ventilator. Speaking to Independent.ie, Danny said that was the last time he "heard her talk...That's the last time I talked to her".

Ashling was transferred to Sweden for specialist treatment and remained in hospital for eight months before she died. Her official cause of death is thought to be an infection which spread to her lungs.

Danny is on a widower's pension and was receiving mortgage supplements from the council while his case was being investigated by the Ombudsman. He was paying 'interest-only' on his mortgage for this time while he fought for his wife's life insurance payout.

"The banks won't take any more money off me... they say it's too far gone. They say they need to repossess the house".

The insurance company claim that information was "not disclosed" when filling out the application for life assurance on the mortgage.

"I saw her fill out that she has been diagnosed with Raynard's disease - that does nothing, just makes your fingers go white. The  mortgage broker lost the first form and we had to do it all again. I was always unsure about that second form but the Ombudsman said they can't help me as that's a fraud claim."

"It asked did she get blood tests in the last five years before applying, which she did. I don't know if she put this down. She did all the forms."

These supplements have ended as the Ombudsman's investigation has concluded and Danny is not entitled to rent allowance as he owns the property. "I can't get rent allowance on my own property. They told me I'd have to get evicted and put on the Council list... and then I could get rent allowance."

"The houses around here are going for 1,400 a month and I would only be entitled to €900 rent allowance so I wouldn't be able to afford it."

"I was never entitled to legal aid. it cost me €850 to get a senior councilman to look at my case. The Ombudsman told me just before Christmas that they couldn't help me anymore. The deadline to bring it to court was February but it took so long that a solicitor wouldn't take me on."

"I feel robbed. We had a house for nine years up in Crumlin and we only moved because we were a bit nervous on the road with young children. We had a mortgage for nine years. If we hadn't moved, I wouldn't be in this position. We would have been covered - that's what kills me."

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