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Irishman is shot in back in Honduras

AN IRISHMAN is fighting for his life today in Honduras after he was shot following a dispute over where he parked his bicycle.

Joe O'Donnell (41) was shot in the back with a revolver, rupturing his spinal chord. He has undergone two operations in a bid to save his life.

Mr O'Donnell was gunned down in the Central American republic on August 19. The attack is understood to have been provoked by a dispute with a woman as to where he parked his bike. The woman's partner later shot him.

Mr O'Donnell -- who holds Australian and Irish citizenship -- was transferred from Roatan Island to the mainland where he had to undergo emergency surgery to stabilise his condition.

The victim's aunt Kitty Nelan from Derrylee, Tralee, Co Kerry said she first heard of her nephew's injuries when his Japanese-born mother Yuri rang her from Australia.

"We're very stressed about it and we don't know who to turn to," a visibly upset Mrs Nelan said. "I gather Joe has no feeling in his legs. It all just sounds crazy what happened to him.

"His mother is very much alone really since my brother passed away and she has no back-up and I find it really hard to understand all that's happening over there. I don't know what's going to happen about bringing him home but his friends have set up an account to help with costs."

The family understands that a representative from the Australian embassy will speak with him in hospital on September 5.

Joe's father Sean, who died in 2004, was born in Riverside, Tralee and raised in Annascaul, Co Kerry before he moved to Australia. Joe has always been a regular visitor and travelled home to attend cousin Brian Nelan's wedding three years ago, just before he moved to Honduras.

The single diving instructor and fitness fanatic was hoping to open his own diving shop on Roatan Island and had been kitting out his shop when he had a row with the wife of the gunman. An 18-year-old island resident with military training stuffed a finger into the bullet hole in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

The gunman later handed himself in to police and a court hearing is pending on September 14.