‘I hope every time that man closes his eyes he sees Martin and his innocent children’ – devastated father-in-law of gangland victim
The father-in-law of innocent gangland victim Martin O’Rourke, who was killed last week in a case of mistaken identity, has spoken of the “unbelievable” horror his family has suffered.
The 24-year-old was shot up to 13 times, and died shortly after he was taken to the Mater Hospital last Thursday.
Speaking to RTE Radio One’s Liveline, his father-in-law Larry Power said the family had not yet been allowed to see or formally identify Mr O’Rourke’s body.
Mr Power said he had spoken to the victim at 10am that morning. “He said he was okay and felt great,” he told the programme.
Mr Power had been walking into Sheriff Street himself when he saw the area filled with Gardaí and forensic investigators.
“I just turned around and walked away. I still had no idea then that it was Martin,” said Mr Power. It wasn’t until 4pm that he learned what had happened.
He described Mr O’Rourke as lacking direction, but noted that he had been sober for seven and a half months.
He said he had been working to get his life back on track, and was on his way to a school course when he was gunned down.
“On Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, he goes to a Back to Education programme. He was trying to do things right by his kids,” Mr Power said.
Mr O’Rourke and his fiancée Angelina have three children together: a four-year-old girl, a two-year-old boy and another boy aged just eight months. Angelina is also pregnant with their fourth child.
Mr Power and his wife Angela have been taking care of the children, and he spoke of the girl’s trauma following the brutal murder of her father.
“The little one is always asking: ‘Where’s my daddy? I want to see my daddy.’ She’s going on all the time about her daddy but we don’t know what to say to her, she’s too young to understand,” he said.
“The baby is left now with no daddy. I hope to God that every time that man closes his eyes he sees Martin and he sees his innocent children. I hope he realises what he’s done to those innocent kids.”
Mr Power’s grieving daughter is also staying with them.
“It’s very, very hard but we’re doing the best we can with her at the moment.
“The horror of this is heart-breaking for my family. It’s sickening to know this happened, it is just unbelievable,” he added.
He went on to outline Mr O’Rourke’s family background. Originally from Tallaght, he had spent most of his life in Dublin’s inner city, but both of his parents were deceased.
“His father died with a heart attack. He was about 55 years old when he died, and that was three and a half years ago.
“His mother is dead 10 years, and she was only a young woman as well. It’s an awful state of affairs,” he said.
Angelina and her parents were “the only family he had”, and Mr Power said he treated his son-in-law as if he was his own child.
“The first time I got to know Martin was seven and a half years ago, I looked after him to the best of my ability and I treated him like a son, because he was like a son,” he said.
He added that Mr O’Rourke’s tragic murder occurred just days after the anniversary of his own child’s death.
“My son was dead April 11. He’s 24 years dead, he died when he was a baby, and then my son-in-law is shot dead three days later,” said Mr Power.
North inner city councillor Christy Burke has been helping the family with a fund-raising appeal to cover the costs of the funeral.
“We don’t have a lot of money, we’re all unemployed. But we have a lot of help off of Christy Burke and his team,” said Mr Power.
Mr Burke joined the programme to describe the generous financial donations made by members of the community, and noted that professional musicians had offered to perform at the funeral.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund should contact Bourke’s Funeral Directors in Smithfield or get in touch with Mr Burke directly.
He explained that Gardaí have told him armed units will be patrolling the area “for the foreseeable future”.
While speaking on Liveline, Mr Burke made an appeal to stop the violence.
“There doesn’t appear to be any respect for life whatsoever. I am appealing to people who are involved in serious crime and shooting people to please, please stop.
“If the man who pulled that trigger on Martin O’Rourke had seen the scenes I saw of that young kid of four crying for her daddy, he would have probably given himself up.”