Solidarity for family 'torn by violence' of roma attack
Liverpool fan Sean Cox was still fighting for his life last night - as the parish priest in his home town in Meath prayed for his family, who have been "torn by violence".
It is understood that doctors in Liverpool are due to gradually take Mr Cox (53) out of an induced coma - with his son Jack, along with St Peter's Dunboyne GAA chairman Fergus McNulty, travelling to Liverpool to be with the family.
Mr Cox received life-threatening head injuries after a brutal assault by Roma fans as he was making his way to Anfield for the Champions League semi-final clash last Tuesday night.
More than 500 friends in the local community turned out in his home town of Dunboyne to offer support to the Cox family in a prayer service at St Peter and Paul's Church.
Mr Cox is a treasurer at St Peter's Dunboyne GAA Club and many locals turned up in the club's colours as a mark of solidarity. Among those in attendance was local man and legendary Meath Gaelic football manager, Sean Boylan.
Speaking during the service, parish priest Fr Patrick O'Connor described the attack on Mr Cox as "senseless violence".
He said the community was gathered "in shock and horror and disbelief but also in faith" as they gathered in prayer for Mr Cox, his wife and children.
He said Mr Cox was an innocent victim of violence.
"This is a dreadful time for Sean and Sean's family. It is a time of worry, it is a time of stress, it is a time of anxiety. It is a time of unanswered questions," Fr O'Connor said.
"It is a time for asking many whys. But as we gather here this evening, we gather in faith and in hope. Sean enjoying himself at a football match became an innocent victim of violence.
"The Cox family are now torn by violence, a community is disturbed by violence."
The priest said that lives were being destroyed by violence everywhere, describing such incidents as "evil in action, a lack of respect for life".
A prayer offered during the service was for the medics in the UK who have looked after Mr Cox over the past seven days.
"Sean is a good family man, a good husband, a good father, brother and friend. A community man with a vocation in life as a father and as a husband and generous and kind and gracious who gives his all to everyone," Fr O'Connor said.
"He is committed to any task that he may take on, and particularly committed to the GAA club here.
"And it's horrific that in pursuing sport and an interest in leisure and enjoying he became the victim of senseless violence.
"As we gather here this evening, we pray at the medical personnel caring their Sean used their God-given talents," he added.
Donations of more than €75,000 have already been raised for the Sean Cox Medical Fund.
The crowdfunding page was set up on the website gofundme.com six days ago and has received donations from football supporters across the world.
As a mark of solidarity, a St Peter's Dunboyne GAA jersey was hung up in the Anfield dressing room ahead of Liverpool's match with Stoke City last Saturday.
Last night, former Ireland international Mark Lawrenson called on the Italian police and Uefa to ensure Reds fans are protected when they travel to Rome for the second leg tomorrow.
There are fears that fans could be the target of an attack by Roma's notorious 'ultras'.
Lawrenson has urged all involved in the organisation of the second leg to put measures in place to ensure the game passes off without incident.
"Do the Rome police want to read reports in newspapers around the world on Thursday morning saying football fans were stabbed in their city once again?" he said.
"I can't imagine they do and I hope the local police and Uefa make sure this goes off without incident.
"I would have some worries for Liverpool fans in Rome, but there is a way to minimise the risk. Don't go to areas where loads of Roma fans are gathered and you should take yourself out of harm's way."