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Gerry O'Carroll: Brave family who simply seek justice for son left in a twilight world

I HAVEN'T been as touched nor as moved by a family's situation as I have by the Robert Delany shooting.

I have a personal connection to this case as I've had the pleasure of meeting Robert's remarkable family a few weeks ago when we were all guests on The Late Late Show. During a discussion on the scourge of gun crime in this country, I was joined by Robert's father Terry and his sister Sinead.

These brave people showed us the heartache that occurs when gun crime comes to one's own doorstep. Revealing the tragedy behind the statistics, they detailed their experience since that fateful night Robert was shot.

The 27-year-old postman was living with his partner and two small children. On October 22, 2008, he was viciously shot in what gardai believe was retaliation for his involvement in an earlier minor incident.



Blasted

In the early hours of the morning, a number of armed men arrived at his house as his family slept. Hearing a commotion, he looked out the window and was blasted with a shotgun in the head and face. He suffered catastrophic brain damage.

Almost 20 months on, Robert remains in a vegetative state. He requires 24-hour care and is unable to do anything for himself. Nor does he recognise his beloved family or friends.

This young man has truly been handed a devastating life sentence. He is condemned to exist in a twilight world between life and death while his heartbroken family look on helplessly.

It is difficult to appreciate the depth of suffering and pain that has befallen the Delanys.

On The Late Late Show, I watched as they behaved with courage and dignity, impressing the entire country with their resilience. Terry and Sinead spoke lovingly of Robert, without any rancour or bitterness about the situation. They have suffered unspeakable pain, watching as their once-vibrant son became merely a shadow of his former self. He was a fun-loving guy, the light of their lives, and a wonderful father to two young children.

Even now, the Delanys are still trying to make sense of why Robert was singled out for such deadly treatment.



Shame

They are just one of countless families who have all suffered terribly because of escalating gun crime. In fact, gun crime in Ireland is five times higher than the rate across the water in England. Robert is another name to be added to that roll call of shame in this country.

Yet despite their predicament, his devoted family never think of revenge. They simply seek justice.

I spoke with the family following our TV appearance and what stood out was their absolute confidence that investigating gardai in Tallaght would eventually bring those responsible to justice.

Yesterday's arrest shows that gardai are doing everything in their power to investigate this terrible crime. Nothing can bring back what has been taken from Robert, but we hope and pray that those responsible will be brought to book.


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