Thursday 18 July 2019

'Joint policing' effort for Twomey Family Memorial

Campaigner Elber brings together top cops from UK and Ireland for hugely successful weekend of events in Meelin

Sheila Fitzgerald

Two of the most senior officers involved in roads policing in Ireland and the UK helped mark the fifth anniversary Twomey Family Remorial weekend this year.

They were Chief Superintendent Aiden Reid of Irish Roads Policing and former president of the EU road traffic policing network TISPOL, and Assistant Chief Constable Jim Nye of Devon and Cornwall Police.

Their appearance at the event, held each year in memory of Meelin-based Twomey family members Connie, Oisín and baby Elber-Marie, who died in a UK crash involving suicidal driver Marek Wojciechowski in 2012, is highly significant. Both men have been involved in helping change the way police officers and gardaí deal with suicidal drivers since the crash.

Police training has been a key element of Elber Twomey's campaign, which was launched after Connie Twomey, his 16-month-old son Oisin and his wife Elber's unborn daughter Elber Marie all died as a result of the crash. Elber, 42, survived the crash despite horrific injuries, including a crushed jaw and pelvis.

She has since vowed to raise awareness of mental health issues in general and to help change the way police officers - on both sides of the Irish Sea - deal with suicidal drivers in particular. As a result of the efforts of the 100-strong team she has behind her campaign, more than €130,000 has been raised for charities and she has been directly involved in police training.

Mrs Twomey told The Corkman: "This year's weekend was a wonderful success, thank God. We were blessed with magical weather and great support".

On Saturday morning the Remorial, supported by Newmarket Motors & VW Commercial, opened with the under 12 Connie Twomey Memorial Hurling Blitz. St. Marks, Croagh Rovers, Newmarket and winners Bishopstown took part.

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Nye, Garda Chief Superintendent Reid and his wife, Deirdre, Cobh-based Garda Inspector Joe O'Connor and Newmarket-based Garda Sergeant Dan Murphy were among those attending. Other members of An Garda Siochana included Dublin Castle-based Sergeant Keith White and colleagues.

Connie's brother-in-law, Aonghus MacDomhnaill, led a well-attended table quiz and local musicians led by Kathleen Wright from Rockchapel and Liam Guiney from Meelin drew Saturday to a close with music, song and dance in Meelin Hall. Sunday morning was an early start with a 55k and 110k cycle organised by Twomey Family Remorial committee member Johnny Stack, leaving Rockchapel at 8.30am. 

Assistant Chief Constable Nye officially sent them on their way with some handy words of road safety advice.  Moments before an impromptu bike horn sounded to start the race, he vowed to return next year and take part.

The race start was followed by Mass in Rockchapel. On Sunday afternoon, a huge gathering of walkers and runners gathered in Meelin village.

Amongst the runners were a contingent of gardai from Irish Roads Policing in Dublin - and a Tom O'Riordan, who had already completed the 110k cycle. Meelin village was buzzing for the evening with DJ Liam O'Sullivan and local musicians. 

"Indeed our fifth anniversary Remorial was yet another emotional, yet beautiful tribute to honour Con, Baba Oisín and Baby Elber-Marie," said Elber. "Huge thanks to our wonderful committee and fantastic people in both communities who continue to inspire us at Twomey Family Remorial. #LifeIsPrecious".

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Nye spoke to The Corkman at the hurling blitz and said it was an honour to attend the Remorial Weekend.

"Elber and I have kept in contact since the tragic events of 2012 and I was delighted to be able to make the event this year," he said. 

"I think Elber is an amazing woman, whose strength of character appears endless. I have watched from across the sea as she promotes road safety nationally and improving the collective response to mental health in crisis. Her drive for this work appears to know no bounds. 

"I will continue to help her where I can, and she is right, life is precious," he added. 

"Can I also thank Elber's family and friends for making me feel so welcome, and to the communities of Meelin and Rockchapel, who were most generous to me. It was my first time in that part of Ireland and I took away a true sense of community spirit, friendship and generosity. 

"I have promised Elber I will be back to do the bike ride in the future" Jim Nye said.