No celebration this Christmas without Fiachra, says Priory Hall's Stephanie
CHRISTMAS isn't a celebration for Priory Hall's Stephanie Meehan and her children this year as they have to face it without the love of their lives.
And 2013 will be remembered as the year when the disaster that was Priory Hall claimed the life of Stephanie's partner Fiachra Daly.
On July 15 Fiachra died by his own hand at the age of 37, as a result of the stress and pressure of dealing with the banks over the firetrap apartments constructed by bomber-turned builder Tom McFeely, a former IRA hunger striker.
Afterwards Stephanie wrote a letter from the heart to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and within eight weeks a solution was achieved.
But Stephanie (36) and her children Oisin (8) and Cerys (2) are left with a void in their lives that neither concrete nor cash can fill.
"I'm starting to wonder about the number 13 now. Our apartment in Priory Hall was number 13, and Fiachra died in 2013," she told the Irish Independent.
"Fiachra's death affected everybody. It's an absolute tragedy that has affected me and my family, and Fiachra's family too."
From the beginning of the Priory Hall debacle in October 2011 Stephanie has been vocal in the campaign to get a solution, and she described Fiachra as a man who felt just as strongly as everyone else, but who didn't like the spotlight.
"It is ironic that by his actions Fiachra was the one who forced the issue to a resolution, he had the last word on Priory Hall, but suicide is not the answer. Austerity and debt is not a reason to take your life," said Stephanie. "I think that something just snapped for him. There's only so much that people can take," she added.
A letter which she wrote about his suicide, which then went public, helped bring about an agreement between the Government and Priory Hall residents which saw their mortgages written off and loans given for new properties.
Stephanie emptied her Priory Hall apartment in recent weeks of the few small personal belongings that were stored in it.
Now she is looking towards 2014 with a new hope and optimism.
"You still have to get up every morning. There are days when I crash and burn and I don't want to even get out of bed . . . but the kids spur me on. I have to look after them," she explains.
"Christmas this year won't be a celebration, it will be a time of reflection. We'll all be glad when the clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve. Fiachra will always be a huge part of our lives.
"2014 will bring a new year, a new home and new beginning. And from there I'm hoping for some peace and quiet.
"But I'd rather I had Fiachra here and we were still battling over Priory Hall than have gone through what happened. I want to put it to bed now."