There is still a lot of anger in Orla Connolly’s voice as she discusses the horrific shooting of her younger sister Sinead in Dublin, for which three men are now serving multiple prison sentences.
As far as Orla is concerned, the 15 years given to Dean McCarthy for the attempted murder of Sinead last March, the nine and a half years given to Joseph Byrne and the five years sentence given to Paul Mooney would never pay for what happened.
“I would never be happy with the punishments because there is no punishment that would be enough for what they did to Sinead,” Orla said.
“She was someone who was full of life, vivacious and bubbly, but she is now serving her own life sentence.
“And that life expectancy has shortened as a result. She will never be able to do all the things that a young woman in her prime and a young mother can do.”
At Mooney’s hearing at the hearing earlier this month, the court heard that Sinead has been on full-time hospital care since the shooting. She was in intensive care from multiple gunshot wounds and has since been paralyzed and requires a wheelchair for all of her mobility.
In her victim statement, Sinead said she was permanently paralyzed and dependent on medication and medical staff. She said the bullets shattered her collarbone, cracked her ribs, punctured her lung and shattered her spine.
She said medical staff told her these were “the most catastrophic injuries” they had ever seen.
She said she was in a coma for 15 days, which caused her family great sadness and fear.
Mooney, 35, of Ring Street, Inchicore, Dublin 8, has been jailed for six years with the last 12 months suspended after he disposed of the firearm used in the attempted murder of Sinead.
Co-defendant Joseph Byrne, 33, of La Touche Road, Bluebell, Dublin 12, has been sentenced to nine and a half years in prison for possession of a G9A Grand Power semi-automatic pistol with intent to endanger life.
And last April, Bluebell’s Dean McCarthy, 33, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to her attempted murder.
But for Orla and her family, they are all equally guilty.
“There’s Byrne openly bringing down the gun, which is now as easy to get hold of as a pack of cigarettes, with no regard for human life. I mean, what he has isn’t nearly enough. He’s just as guilty as Dean, who actually pulled the trigger.
“If he hadn’t brought that gun there that day, it wouldn’t have happened. If he had chosen to say no, Sinead would not have been shot.
“And he didn’t care about Mooney either. He disposed of it like it was nothing.
“He didn’t care about what had just happened, about Sinead or her daughter who was at the apartment that day. They just causally went about their business.
“These are the people who made it possible for Dean to shoot Sinead. You are just as bad as whoever pulled the trigger.”
Orla firmly believes that along with Sinead, “Dean, Joey and Paul also victimized their own families.”
“These three have not only destroyed their own lives, but also those of their families. Your hasty decisions made that day had that ripple effect on so many people.”
Orla said that even though all three cases were closed, she still felt the system let her sister down.
“Considering what she has been going through, Sinead has not been provided with any mental health support. This should have been there for her and should have been there for anyone who falls victim to a crime.
“She was the victim of a very serious crime and yet there was no therapy for her.”
Meanwhile, Sinead remains at St James’s Hospital, where she has been since April. She hopes to get out for three days over Christmas. But that’s all she’ll manage.
“The processes were torture,” Orla added. “She had to face these three people on three separate occasions. But she is strong, she stood up to them in court and spoke her mind.”
Both Connolly sisters are also concerned about the feeling of increasing violence against women.
“There seems to be an epidemic going on at the moment,” Orla added. “Sinead has often said she wanted to help people after her story was highlighted. And I’ve had people come to me with certain concerns in their own background after reading about Sinead in Sunday World.
“I would urge anyone out there who might have the same concerns to stop and report it. By talking about Sinead we raise awareness to say don’t suffer, don’t be afraid. Come forward and don’t let it get to the point where I nearly lost my sister and niece. Let someone know, it doesn’t have to be a member of your family.
“If people want to come to me or Sinead, they can just reach out because we want to help, even if it’s just to talk or be there for them.”
As they head into the new year, Orla says, they’re hoping to somehow put the past two years behind them.
And the first step along that path is Orla’s insistence that Sinead and her daughter Leah will no longer be victims but “survivors in my eyes.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/sister-of-gun-victim-sinead-connolly-says-no-sentence-enough-for-men-who-left-her-paralysed-42243244.html Sister of gun victim Sinead Connolly says ‘not one sentence enough’ for men she left paralyzed