'We're praying he makes it' - friends and family of assault victim Paddy Hansard (75), hold vigil
Friends, family and neighbours of attack victim Paddy Hansard turned out last night to offer their support as he battles in hospital.
The 75-year-old great-grandfather suffered serious head and spinal injuries in an attack on Saturday.
He was rushed to the Mater Hospital where he last night remained in a critical but stable condition and in a coma.
More than 200 people gathered outside the Courtney Place flats in Ballybough to say prayers.
Sister Nuala, from the nearby Daughters of Charity order in Fairview, led prayers, saying a decade of the Rosary for Mr Hansard, his distraught wife Rose and their son Paul who is maintaining a vigil at his bedside.
“I’m very touched by all the candles lit here tonight. They are a sign of hope and God above us,” she told the crowd.
Pensioners, families with children, friends, neighbours and strangers stood outside Paddy’s flat where he was viciously attacked after returning home from a night out at a local pub.
Neighbour Lorraine Gavin (40), who organised the vigil, said everyone in the area was shocked by the senseless attack.
“I’ve known Paddy all my life. He’s very friendly. We’re just praying he gets a lot of strength and pulls through,” she said.
Neighbour Natalie McGucken (36) and her husband Derek (35) took their children Max (4) and Kristina (10) along to pray for his recovery.
She saw Mr Hansard being taken away by ambulance and still can’t believe what happened to him.
It was hard having to explain to their children what happened, she said.
“I was shocked,” she said.
“He just comes in and out and minds his own business. He’s a lovely man.”
Local Dublin city councillors Christy Burke, Nial Ring and Joe Costello also attended and thanked everyone for the show of solidarity for Mr Hansard and the community at large.
Mr Burke said Paddy’s brother Paul broke down in tears and thanked the community for all the texts and emails and other expressions of support they have received from well wishers.
Although there has been no change in Mr Hansard’s condition, he said the support means a lot to the family.
“I want to applaud the community,” he said.
Nial Ring said: “Paddy never looked for trouble in his life. We’re showing that we always remember our own.”
Joe Costello said: “The type of violence like this has to be stood up.
“We have to show that something like this won’t be tolerated.”
Mr Burke had spread word of the vigil on his Facebook page.
“As we all know, Paddy is still fighting hard in hospital,” he said.“[Neighbour] Lorraine [Gavin] wants to show support to Paddy’s partner and his family at this very difficult time. Lorraine has asked that everyone bring a candle and light [it] for hope and strength for Paddy and his family.
“I encourage everyone to come along and show support. Well done Lorraine on trying to bring the community and Paddy’s family together at this very difficult time.”
The scene of the alleged assault was preserved to allow a forensic examination by gardai to be carried out. It is understood that a number of items that may have been used in the attack are now forming part on the ongoing investigation.