Sunday 25 March 2018

Brendan O'Connor: The moment when little Ciaran Treacy (4) stopped crying

The death of four-year-old Ciaran Treacy was, in many ways, for his family, worse than murder, says Brendan O’Connor

BEYOND COST: Gillian Treacy with her son Ciaran, who lost his life after their car was hit by a drunk driver
BEYOND COST: Gillian Treacy with her son Ciaran, who lost his life after their car was hit by a drunk driver
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

A year ago, in the Civil Circuit Court, Ronan Treacy was awarded €10,000 for mental distress and loss. Ronan had lost his son Ciaran in April when a car driven by his wife Gillian was hit by another vehicle driven by Finbarr O’Rourke, a 40-year-old man who drank eight to 10 pints of cider before getting behind the wheel.

We can only speculate how the figure of €10,000 was arrived at - no fault to the judge the amounts are limited by law. Was €1,000 of it for the moment when Ronan, having just settled his two-year-old daughter Caoimhe down to sleep, got a phone call from a neighbour to say they had recognised the family car in a crash? Was there another €1000 for when Ronan had to speak to his wife on the phone, while she was trapped in the car, as she told him she was worried about their four-year-old son Ciaran, who, having cried and screamed for a while, had gone silent?

Was it another thousand for having to take Caoimhe out of the bed to drive to the scene of the accident? How much of the €10,000 was for Ronan having to look at his two sons, Ciaran and Sean on the side of the road, attempts being made to resuscitate Ciaran while Sean was comforted? Another €1000 maybe for having to look at his wife, seriously injured, as the emergency team took an hour to free her from the car. How much of Ronan Treacy’s compensation covered having to bear the knowledge on his own that his little boy was dead? His wife was too critically ill to be told, even though she kept asking. So Ronan had to bear that shock alone. And how much was it worth to compensate for Ronan having to then confirm for his wife what she knew already, that their world was shattered, their son was dead? Gillian couldn’t even speak when Ronan came to see her. But she managed to make the letter C with her hand, and Ronan had to tell her that yes, what she suspected was true, when Ciaran had stopped screaming and crying and gone silent, his short life was ending.

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