Friday 15 December 2017

Father of boy (8) caught up in hotel shooting tells of child's trauma

The scene at the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra (Collins)
The scene at the Regency Hotel in Drumcondra (Collins)

The father of the young boy caught up in the Regency Hotel shooting has told how his son is recovering from the trauma.

Boxer Michael Sweeney had attended the weigh-in along with his eight-year-old son Rocky.

The pair were there to support Mr Sweeney's brother Gary, who was due to compete and had just stepped off the scales when the gunmen opened fire.

As the gunmen began shooting and panic and confusion ensued, the Mayo schoolboy can be heard on a video pleading with his father to help him.

In the video, little Rocky is heard crying out: "Daddy, Daddy help me, Daddy what was that?"

Mr Sweeney, from Ballinrobe Co Mayo, who is himself a professional boxer, told the Herald his son is now recovering from the incident, but said the family were continuing to monitor him.

"He hasn't really talked to us about it but he has spoken to some of the young lads. Thankfully, he's doing fine. He's only eight, so we'll keep an eye on him. He's just a kid and not too many people have to deal with something like this.

"You just don't think something like this could happen in a hotel in the middle of the day. You think you are safe," he added.


Mr Sweeney told how his brother Gary, who was preparing for his professional debut, had just left the stage of the function room still in his shorts when the gunmen stormed the room and opened fire.

"It was just a split second. At first I thought it was some sort of scuffle or fight but then people started to run. I followed suit. I grabbed him [Rocky] and ran. Gary was still in his boxers, we all just made for the exit. Thankfully, we were all safe and uninjured," he added.

Mr Sweeney explained how it was only when they had left the hotel that his brother realised his wife Annie was still inside.

"He didn't realise because it all happened so fast, but he went back in and, thankfully, she was okay."

Mr Sweeney said that his brother had been training hard for his professional debut.

"He had been planning it for a while and that's why we were all there to support him. But that's a day he won't forget in a hurry," he added.

Michael's brother Gary told the Western People newspaper that the incident had been "absolutely terrifying".

"I had just come off the scales and was getting my clothes when I heard the first shot. I froze in fear. Then I ran to a side door of the hotel which brought us out the back. The shots were still going on and we could hear them.

"But then I realised my wife, Annie Pauline, was still inside. I had to go back in and there was chaos, people were screaming and climbing over chairs to get away from the gunmen," he said.

"It was just the scariest thing for everyone, young children, too; it was awful."

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