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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Gardai fear more violence after arson attack deaths

Ralph Riegel

GARDAI are mounting round-the-clock patrols to prevent any outbreak of violence linked to an arson attack in which a mother of one and a five-year-old boy died.

Last night they appealed for calm and public support for their ongoing investigation into the petrol bomb attack on Easter Sunday morning in Mahon, Cork, which claimed the lives of Helena O'Dwyer (25) and her nephew, Ryan.

Gardai revealed that a semi-naked man who was spotted in nearby Blackrock is among the individuals they would now like to speak with.

The young man was seen in the Ropewalk area, not far from the arson attack, between 2am and 3am on Sunday.

A second youth, who was not in the other man's company, was also noticed in the same area at the same time.

One youth was wearing a black hoodie, while the other was stripped to the waist.

Gardai also want to talk to a middle-aged couple who are reported to have been in the Nutley Road area at 3am on Sunday and the driver of a silver or light-coloured Toyota Avensis estate driving on Blackrock Road and Convent Road around 20 minutes before the arson attack.

A number of properties have been attacked in the wake of Sunday's tragedy -- and several people have fled the area amid fears for their safety.

These include a 22-year-old man, who was arrested by gardai in connection with the arson attack but was subsequently released without charge.

It emerged last night that Helena will be buried alongside her beloved younger brother, William (14), who died in a car crash on May 30, 2005.

Ryan will also be buried alongside the uncle he never knew.

Yesterday, both bodies were released to the O'Dwyer family after post-mortem examinations and exhaustive toxicology tests were concluded at Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Ryan will be buried after a Mass of the Angels in the Cathedral of St Mary and St Ann at 10am tomorrow. Helena will be buried after Requiem Mass on Saturday.


Gardai are maintaining a high-profile presence in Mahon amid mounting public anger at the revelation that Helena had been subjected to a terrifying campaign of intimidation and harassment in the final fortnight of her life.

Her father, Joe, revealed that she had received numerous threatening text messages -- and one letter that claimed her home was going to be fire-bombed. One text message ended with 'RIP'.

A complaint was made to the gardai about the threats just days before the arson attack.

In the past 36 hours, two houses have been attacked in Mahon -- and one car, belonging to a relative of the young man released from garda custody, was vandalised.

Councillor Chris O'Leary (SF) backed the garda appeal for calm -- but said he was also astounded by the extraordinary generosity of the public in response to an appeal for help for the O'Dwyer family.

He again urged anyone with information to come forward and assist the investigation.

The family lost all their possessions in the house fire, with six members of the family including Joe, his wife Helena Snr (49), their daughter Dawn and three grandchildren escaping with only the clothing they were wearing.

Irish Independent

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