Wednesday 19 June 2019

Former TD Charlie O'Connor tells Miriam O'Callaghan his late son was 'always fighting' his addiction to alcohol

Cllr Charlie O'Connor holding a picture of his late son Robert
Picture:Arthur Carron
Cllr Charlie O'Connor holding a picture of his late son Robert Picture:Arthur Carron

Sarah Stack

Former TD Charlie O'Connor has pleaded with other families with addictions problems to seek help

Mr O’Connor’s son Robert  (35) was found dead at his partner's home last April after a suspected accidental overdose.

Mr O’Connor, who saw his son the night before his tragic death, said he marked the anniversary “nice and quietly”.

“I don’t mind admitting I miss my Robert,” he told RTE’s Miriam O’Callaghan.

“I know that would interest him.

“I had a lot of contact with him, I saw him every day including the day he died.”

Read more here: Tributes paid to former TD's son Robert 

The former Tallaght-based TD and councillor said the day before Robert died he brought him to college and then Leinster House.

His said his son borrowed his bank card and a few weeks later a book he bought for €9.73 arrived.

“Here’s my rough and tumble son and his last legacy if you like... he bought an introduction to English poetry,” he added.

“He had his challenges, but also a good guy,”

Read more here: Politicians from across parties unite to mourn former TD's son 

Mr O’Connor missed a call from his son the night before he died, and texted him the next morning to say: “I can’t get you”.

“Of course I believe at that point that Robert had passed away,” he added.

It was only when he came out of mass that he got a call from Robert’s then girlfriend sympathising that he heard his son was dead.

“Somebody who came out of mass after me told me some months later that she was walking across the car park with friend and noticed I got in to the car and got out,” he said.

“Apparently I circled the car several times clearly trying to get thoughts together.

"I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked. It wasn’t what I expected.

“I’d seen him that evening, was with him the previous day. It was a total shock.”

Wearing his son’s jumper on air, Mr O’Connor said he always carries a picture of Robert and took Micheal Martin’s advice to “keep doing all the normal things”.

He said his son’s diary has given him an insight in to Robert’s drinking habits, and his plans to deal with his issues.

“He was always fighting it,” he added.

“He realised he had an alcohol problem, wanted to deal with it and wanted to be normal.”

He said his son had a problem with alcohol from his late teens, and it became his demon.

“I’d say seek advice,” he said when asked what families should do in similar positions.

“There are lot of services, not only in Tallaght but throughout the country.

“That’s the challenges that Aodhán Ó Ríordáin now has (as drugs minister) that in every task force area and urban area that there are proper resources and people can access them.

“I would encourage any family to own up. Sometimes people are in denial.

“Please don’t do that. Please seek help. It’s important.”

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