herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

I heard of son's death outside Mass - ex-TD

FORMER Fianna Fail TD Charlie O'Connor has revealed that he first learned of his son's death when a well-wisher called to sympathise with him.

The politician's son Robert died tragically in April this year.

And Mr O'Connor said that he first discovered about his untimely death from Robert's partner as he left mass.

"His girlfriend got me [on the phone] and was sympathising with me on his passing and I didn't understand what she was saying," he revealed.

"After a few seconds she suddenly realised that she was telling me something that I didn't know."

SHOCK

"That was a big shock," he added.

As people were trying to get in touch with the political figure he was at Holy Saturday mass.

"I was actually at mass, came out had lots of missed calls, I didn't panic too much," he said.

The manner in which the news of his son's death spread was "shocking", according to the former Dublin South West deputy.

And he said that "genuine" expressions of sympathy flooded in on social media before he had a chance to break the news to his other sons.

Robert (35) was found dead in his partner's home in Rialto, and his family are awaiting an inquest to find out exactly how he died.

It is suspected that Robert may have died from a drug overdose and his father is convinced that his death was an accident.

"I believe that his death was an accident, but that has yet to be defined," he told RTE's Sean O'Rourke in an interview.

Mr O'Connor admitted that he will always wonder about the night that his middle son passed away.

"On the night I believe he died, I had a missed call at three minutes past 11. I'll always wonder 'what if'," he said.

"What if I answered was he saying goodbye to me? Was he telling me he was ok? Was he telling me that he needed me quick?"

The death of his middle son has changed his life, Mr O'Connor said and he has since taken a back seat in politics.

Throughout the emotional interview he referred often to his son as "my Robert" and highlighted his many good points.

Complex

Robert was a complex person who was very positive when he was on form, Mr O'Connor recalled.

It appears as if his popular young son had made a lot of friends during his time working in Dail Eireann before moving on to try to break into the acting world.

The devastated dad said that while he didn't blame a failure in the system for his son's death, he did believe that more needed to be done to safe- guard mental health in this country.

hnews@herald.ie

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