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Sunday 21 September 2014

Priory Hall campaigner begs others to seek help at inquest of tragic partner

Conor Feehan and Gareth Naughton

Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30

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Stephanie Meehan accompanied by family members leaving the Coroners Court following the inquest into her partrner Fiachra Daly's death.
Fiachra Daly and Stephanie Meehan with their daughter, Cerys O'Dhalaigh in 2011

The fiancee of a Priory Hall resident who took his own life under mounting pressure from banks over their mortgage on the controversial housing complex has called on those who are struggling to "seek help".

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Father of two Fiachra Daly (38) was found dead on July 15 last year in a top-floor bedroom in Belmayne, Dublin 13. It was the house the family had been living in since November 2011 when they were evacuated from Priory Hall in Donaghmede.

Speaking after the inquest into Fiachra's death, Stephanie Meehan said she is still coming to terms with his loss and will remember him as a loving partner and father to their two children Oisin (9) and Cerys (3).

During the inquest at Dublin City Coroner's court, Stephanie and Fiachra's families learned there was cocaine and a "very high level" of alcohol in his system when he took his life.

"Fiachra's track record as a partner and a father is impeccable and we can only assume that his use of drugs and alcohol on the night he died was in an effort to dull the pain of what he was about to do," said Stephanie, who was visibly shocked by the findings.

She had known that Fiachra had some drinks earlier in the day, and had a glass of wine with her after she had returned home from a barbecue with their children, but Stephanie said she had not known he had cocaine. "We are shocked to hear these findings about Fiachra and do not want his legacy as a person to be affected by this," she said.

"He was a fantastic partner and dad and that is how we will remember him. Nothing can bring him back. Nothing can replace him," she added.

Despite all her experience with the seemingly endless hell of the Priory Hall debacle, and having tried to come to terms with the sudden death of Fiachra, Stephanie's thoughts following the inquest were with anyone who might be thinking of ending their own lives.

"We would urge anybody who is thinking of doing what Fiachra did not to go down that road but turn to their family and talk, to seek help," she said.

"We have found the services of Pieta House to be incredible," Stephanie added.

Stephanie described how the weekend of his death had been entirely normal. On Sunday, July 14, she went to bed around 10pm while he stayed up. In the morning when she woke, she opened the blinds in their daughter's room she saw his van outside. The mother of two found his body in a bedroom in the house, and described how his face was "cold".

She said that he was not on any medication and had no previous history of depression. No note or letter was found.

"It happened completely out of the blue. Everybody was very surprised. He was a very happy, kind person," she said.

On the Sunday evening he was anxious that she should fill out her part of a financial statement for an extension of their mortgage moratorium. They had to do this "constantly", she said, but he "seemed more stressed about it than usual".

"We had gotten a letter earlier on in the week from the bank stating that we were €20,000 in arrears and they couldn't extend our moratorium unless we completed the statement of means. It annoyed Fiachra that we had a mortgage for a house we couldn't live in," she said.

At post-mortem, the pathologist gave the cause of death as hanging. The toxicology screen found that there was cocaine, cut with two other drugs, in his system as well as a blood alcohol level of 318 milligrams. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that this was a "very high level".

"When this happened Fiachra was intoxicated with alcohol and cocaine," he said, as he returned an open verdict as it was not possible to say that Mr Daly was in his "clear mind" when he took his own life.

National suicide charity Console operates a helpline number at 1800 247 247

Irish Independent

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