Rosie Dolan spoke to Leitrim students about the night her son Andrew was attacked.
Students from all over County Leitrim heard first hand today how a night out saw Carrick-on-Shannon's Andrew Dolan lose his life after being assaulted over the Christmas holidays in 2011.
At the Comhairle na nOg Liatroma AGM held in the Bush Hotel, guest speaker Rosie Dolan spoke of her son Andrew and the events of that night as part of a campaign to 'Use you brain not your fists.'
Rosie told the students "Before I will tell you about Andrew I would like u to turn ur phones on silence, I would ask u to close your eyes…. visualize someone u really really love, a brother, a sister, best friend…now I want u to remember all the best times, the fun times, …I would than ask u to open ur eyes and imagine they were snatched away. Gone forever!
"Andrew was the second of our 3 beautiful boys, as a family we were always close and treasured time together, especially the banter at the kitchen table. Andrew was gentle, kind, good humoured and witty. He loved reading, sports and playing his guitar. He loved his playstation and his computer.
"He was very independent and had worked part time here in the hotel from the age of 16 years.
He loved life and all it had to offer. He was a second year biomedical student in Galway at the time of his death.
"What happened to Andrew? Andrew died following an attack by three persons on 23th Dec 2011. It was a textbook unprovoked attack. He didn’t raise his hand, let alone his voice except to plead with his attackers “please don’t hit me”. He received 6 blows to the upper body, the final punch lifted him up in the air, off his feet and he fell back hitting his head off the pavement.
"When we arrived at the Hospital Andrew was sitting up in his bed, He had a cut lip, swollen eye and 2 cuts on the back of his head. Andrew did not appear to recognise us or could not communicate with us. He deteriorated quickly within the next few hours as can happen with a serious head injury.
He died 10 days later. The first and greatest victim in this case was Andrew. He did nothing wrong.
He did not die in his sleep or from an illness. Andrew’s life was not lost but stolen. He was robbed of his future.
"What happened next?
…the devastation to us, to Andrew’s brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, the grieving…horrific.
The following two and a half years were spent in the Courts.
Andrew’s attack was recorded on CCTV. We watched this many times in the courts.
His attackers were in and out of the courtroom with us. The three of them were charged with his unlawful killing. The attacker that gave the final punch pleaded guilty and spent two years in jail in Portlaoise, the other two, following a 10 day trial, were convicted of lesser charges of assault and got community service. We don’t hate them, that would not be Andrew’s way either, actually, we feel sorry for their families for the pain and shame they have brought upon them, there were no winners that night.
Why did it happen?
"If I had said to Andrew that night be careful, he would have said “why Mum? Why would anyone want to hurt me?” I did an interview on Ireland AM recently and Mark Cagney said “It’s in the nature of boys to behave in this fashion,” apart from me reminding Mark there was a girl involved in Andrew’s attack, I don’t agree with him. So why did it happen? The Judge used the words “ out of control” the 3 attackers were out of control with drink. They didn’t know what they were doing.
"I believe if they had viewed your proposed video in their 3 homes that day my son could be alive today. If a bystander yelled STOP, If friends had got a taxi home for someone ‘out of control with drink’ my son could be alive today. We can influence behaviour. We can educate. Look at the car seat belt campaigns. None of you would get in a car without a seat belt, we are all aware of the damage a back seat passenger can do to front seat passengers.
"I am pleased today that Comhairle na nOg Liatroma is embracing the Garda campaign “ Use your brain, not your fist” as their project this year promoting the senselessness of random acts of violence and the consequences for not only the victims and their families but for the attackers and their families too……. Did you know u could lose your right to freedom, your right to travel; you could curtail your career prospects all for a few moments of drunken madness.
"We have individual responsibility to break the cycle of how young men and young woman behave in conflict and drama situations. I need your help, your help in leading this campaign. I need you to raise awareness that your fist is a weapon. Let Andrew’s death be a catalyst for change. Let Andrew’s death not have been in vain."