Tuesday 14 August 2018

Tributes to transgender woman with 'infectious smile' who died in a Galway direct provision centre

Sylvia. Twitter credit: @niallotuathail
Sylvia. Twitter credit: @niallotuathail

Conor McCrave

Tributes have being paid to the transgender woman with an “infectious smile” who died while living at a direct provision centre in Galway yesterday.

“Sylvie was one of those rare people that brought you completely into the moment when you saw her,"said Niall Ó Tuathail, a Social Democrat representative for Galway who knew her.

"She had an infectious smile and made everyone around her feel good.

“She was an incredible activist. It’s terrible to hear about her passing in a Galway Direct Provision centre.”

Chris Noone who is a lecturer in Galway tweeted about the loss of his friend.

“Sylvie wasn’t only a trans woman in #DirectProvision. She was my friend who loved to cook and me me jealous of pics with her work, she was a joker,” he said.

“She had strong feelings about her situation and was brave enough to share them and she loved Whitney Houston – a lot! I miss her.”

Teach Solais LBGT+ Resource Centre paid tribute to a “great friend” in a Facebook post.

“AMACH and Teach Solais are devastated at the loss of our great friends Sylvia, she was part of our family,” it said.

The Irish Refugee Council paid tribute and said: “we are very sad to hear of the passing of a transgender woman living in Direct Provision in Galway”.

“We express our deepest condolences to the family and friends and we’d like to offer our support to anyone affect by this tragic loss.”

The Department of Justice and Equality confirmed the death of the woman believed to have been living in the men’s ward of the centre despite identifying as a woman.

Her body was found on Thursday afternoon and a post-mortem examination is due to take place

“In line with normal practice where a death occurs of a person who is availing of accommodation services, the Department was notified of the sad passing of this person,” a spokesperson said.

“Our understanding is that the person fell ill at the Centre. As is normal practice in cases of unexplained deaths, a post mortem examination will take place. We wish to express our condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.”

A garda spokesperson confirmed they were aware of the situation and will be conducting an investigation but are not treating the death as suspicious.

“Gardaí in Galway are investigating a sudden death which occurred at the Great Western House, Frenchville Lane, Eyre Square, Galways yesterday August 3rd 2018,” they said.

“The purpose of the investigation is to submit a report to the Coroner’s office. At this stage there are no suspicious circumstances.”

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