Saturday 1 October 2016

Give drunk drivers longer jail terms - grieving parents

Published 17/11/2015 | 02:30

Little Ciaran Treacy (4) who tragically died after drunk driver Finbarr O’Rourke crashed into his mother Gillian Treacy’s car in Co Laois in April 2014.
Little Ciaran Treacy (4) who tragically died after drunk driver Finbarr O’Rourke crashed into his mother Gillian Treacy’s car in Co Laois in April 2014.

The parents of a four-year-old boy killed by a drunk driver have called for tougher sentences in drink-driving cases.

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Gillian and Ronan Treacy lost their son Ciaran when a vehicle crossed the white line and ploughed into their car.

The head-on collision occurred in April 2014 as Gillian was returning home to Portarlington with the couple's sons, Ciaran and Sean, after spending a day with their grandparents in Stradbally, Co Laois.

Ronan said there needs to be a "fairer way" of dealing with drunk drivers.

"Whether it be tougher sentences...I would like to even see it aligned with the UK.

"I think they are around 14 years whereas here I think the maximum is 10 years."

Ms Treacy was seriously injured in the collision.

She said that after the collision she feared the car would go up in flames.

"I was asking Sean to get Ciaran's belt off so the two of them could get out of car, I knew at that stage I couldn't get out.

"I did fear the worst - I thought Ciaran was badly injured or that he was dead."

Gillian's husband Ronan was at home with their youngest child Caoimhe when he received a call about the collision.

"I just didn't know what I was getting into," he said.

"I got Caoimhe out of the cot. I arrived at the scene in total disbelief. There were ambulances, fire brigades, guards, just mayhem. In my wildest dreams, you couldn't imagine what I walked into.

"I was ushered straight to Sean, who needed to be calmed down."

He had a couple of bruises and was sore but he was hysterical out of fear.

"I kept asking about Ciaran and they said, 'He's okay, we're working on him'.

"I couldn't get near the car to see Gillian.

"I would have known all the local guys [in the emergency crews], known them all personally.

"It was etched across their faces."

Speaking on RTÉ One's 'Claire Byrne Live' last night, the young couple said life "has been tough" since the collision.

Gillian is set for another operation on her lower leg in the next few weeks.

Ronan said their children, Sean and Caoimhe, are "doing good".

"Kids are a lot stronger than grown-ups, they deal with grief a little bit differently. They're stronger than we give them credit for."

Travelling salesman Finbarr O'Rourke (40), of Laurel Drive, Portlaoise, Co Laois, was jailed for seven years and six months for causing the death of Ciaran.

He was also disqualified from driving for 20 years.

Irish Independent

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