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Thursday 19 September 2019

'We didn't want another family to lose a father' - Daughter of victim (55) asks judge not to send drink-driver to jail

  • Mike Monaghan (55) was killed by a drink-driver during the Christmas season
  • 'We weren't going to gain anything by sending him to jail. It wasn't going to bring our father back' - says Mike's daughter Michelle
  • 'People don't realise how serious driving is, never mind drink driving'
Mike Monaghan (inset) was killed by a drink driver
Mike Monaghan (inset) was killed by a drink driver
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The heartbroken daughter of a man who was killed by a drink-driver at Christmas has asked a judge to hand down a suspended sentence as she "didn't want another family to lose a father".

Father-of-three, Mike Monaghan (55) was killed when a car drove across the road in front of his motorcycle at Polkeen, Two Mile Ditch, Castlegar, Co Galway on December 30 2015.

The driver of that car, Michael Jordan (50) from Cloonacauneen, Claregalway was found to be over the legal drinking limit when the accident occurred.

Last month, a judge sentenced Mr Jordan to one-year in jail for careless driving, which was suspended for three years, and disqualified him from driving for two years.

He imposed a three-month sentence, suspended for three years, on the drunken driving charge.

Speaking for the first time, Mike's eldest daughter Michelle (29) told that their family had asked the judge not to jail Jordan as they felt one family without a father was enough.

"Being at the court case was really hard for us all. It was very emotional," Michelle said.

"It'll be three years this Christmas since my father died, so the hearing has been a long time coming.

"We all went to the court together because we wanted to see what really happened and what the outcome would be."

The young technician said that while it wasn't easy to hear the details of her father's case, she was happy with the outcome.

The court last November heard that Mr Jordan had been drinking at a local pub while watching a match with his young son.

He and his son were leaving the pub's car park in his car and crossing the main N17 road when they collided with Mr Monaghan's motorbike.

"We didn't want him to go to jail, but I was happy that he was given a suspended sentence because it showed how serious the offence was.

"My father was an amazing person and he always saw the best in everybody. We agreed that we had already lost a father, and we didn't want another family to lose one. We weren't going to gain anything by sending him to jail. It wasn't going to bring our father back.

"It was a tragic accident. It wasn't somebody who set out intentionally to cause harm. He's not a bad person. There is a whole other life and a whole other family involved."

She added that Christmas time is especially hard for their family.

"Every day is hard, but Christmas is especially hard. Christmas will never be the same again but we do still celebrate it and we try and include my father in any way that we can.

"We just get through it but it's obvious that there is a person missing."

This Christmas, Michelle urged others to be aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and said that Irish people are "too complacent".

"This man wasn't ridiculously over the limit. He only had two or three drinks. He was just going over the road to get back to his house. It's such an easy thing to happen. People think it's okay to have one or two drinks and then drive back home and it's no big deal. But if he hadn't drank and then drove, my father would still be here today.

"People don't realise how serious driving is, never mind drink driving. It's only when you're in an accident that you realise how dangerous it is."

Earlier this month, gardai revealed that some 445 people have been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving since November 30.

The most common time period for the arrests was between 11pm and 4am, of which 205 of the arrests were made. 

A further 43 arrests occurred during the morning, between 9am and 12pm.

In December 2017, a total of 812 people were arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated- and with numbers over the halfway mark so far this month, the figure could match the 2017 amount by the end of the month.

A spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) told that the high number was "disappointing" to see following the launch of their annual Christmas campaign.

"It’s disappointing to see so many drivers failing to heed our Christmas and new year message. However it does clearly demonstrate that the gardai are out enforcing our drink driving laws," the spokesperson said.

"Drivers who are willing to take a very silly chance to drink drive are putting their own and the lives of others at risk. The safest option to take if planning to head out is to plan how you are going to get home. Also be aware of the dangers of drink driving the morning after."

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