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Family fears justice to be denied over death

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A County Galway family has accused the Government of being afraid to stand up to the German authorities as they continue to seek answers regarding the death of a family member.

Members of the Fitzpatrick family in Portumna feel abandoned by the Government as they fight to have the case reopened. The family says that they have compelling evidence that Matthew Fitzpatrick (34) did not take his own life in Mannheim on December 11, 2010.

And this week the close-knit family have again called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to request the German authorities to reopen the investigation.

Doors have been closed on the family’s attempts to prove that Matthew did not commit suicide at his apartment.  It has been an agonising four years for the family.

“All we want is justice for Matthew”, says his brother Patrick Fitzpatrick who has been at the coalface of a campaign to prove that their brother was actually murdered.

He said that his apparent suicide was staged and the family had evidence to prove that Matthew could not have physically taken his own life.

But the family has been hampered in their efforts to have the case reopened. The German authorities do not want to know. Neither does the Department of Foreign Affairs in this country, according to the family.

The late Matthew Fitzpatrick.

The late Matthew Fitzpatrick

 

Matthew was a successful engineer working for a Cork based company with an office in Mannheim. He had intentions of moving to another location, perhaps America. His brother Patrick has been involved in constant discussions with politicians both here and in Germany in an effort to have Matthew’s case reopened.

Patrick said that there was no evidence that he took his own life and the family was furious that the German authorities or police could not see this.

And he revealed that there was a number of Matthew’s social circle who had been information about the circumstances surrounding his death in Mannheim who were not coming forward.

He said that even people he was close to in an Irish pub in Mannheim had not even expressed their sympathy following his death. His ex-girlfriend had also not contacted any family member. The family wants German authorities to re-open an investigation into his death and they want the Irish Government to help them.

Patrick Fitzpatrick said that his brother had 45 injuries to his body and a lot of these were of a defensive nature. People in an upstairs apartment heard an altercation below on the night prior to his body being found.

In particular, the family says they’ve never been given an explanation for a significant trauma on the back of Matthew’s head, and haemorrhaging on his lower back. Using information from the first autopsy, an analysis by the family suggests that it was physically impossible for Matthew to have hanged himself on the kitchen door in his apartment.

The Fitzpatrick family claims that German authorities ignored evidence and contradictory testimony, and even falsely attributed a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to Matthew, in order to support an early and consistent conclusion that he took his own life.

A Coroner’s Court jury in Dublin in April 2011 returned an open verdict on the question of whether or not suicide had been the cause of death. The family believes that someone close to Matthew knows exactly what happened to him. They have vowed to continue their fight for answers.

Connacht Tribune

Record crowds pack Ballinasloe to celebrate Fair’s 300th anniversary

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Crowds flock to the Fairgreen at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair.

RECORD crowds packed into Ballinasloe last weekend for the return of the famous October Fair – but it turned to be a ‘dry day’ for the punters with most of the pubs in the town taking the decision to close their doors on Sunday.

Hotels in the town also adopted either a ‘food only’ or ‘residents only’ policy through Sunday but Gardaí reported a trouble-free weekend in the town.

“There were huge crowds around and especially so on Sunday, but we had no reports of any trouble – it was practically an incident free weekend,” said a Garda spokesperson.

Many visitors to the Fair on Sunday expressed disappointment at the decision of the pubs to close  – although a few establishments did open their doors with special security arrangements in place.

The last ‘official fair’ took place in October, 2019, and while there was an unofficial event last year, it was only a small gathering due to the Covid restrictions.

An estimated 3,000 people turned out for the free open-air country music concert with Mike Denver in the Square on Sunday afternoon and Fair organisers also reported a very busy sales day with many horses changing hands.

Trustee of the Ballinasloe Showgrounds, Gerry Stronge, told the Connacht Tribune, that after a three-year break, the crowds had really thronged back into the town on Sunday.

“Most people I know that have been attending the Fair for years said that it was biggest crowd they had ever seen there on the first Sunday of the event.

“It was an incredible day – the streets were absolutely jammed with people – and it was most enjoyable with no trouble whatsoever,” he said.

Get the full story with loads of photos in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Compo can keep sex abuse dad out of jail

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Galway Courthouse.

An estranged father who sexually assaulted his then-ten-year-old daughter seven years ago will escape a two-year jail term – if he pays her €12,000 within the next twelve months.

Counsel for the 51-year-old man, who cannot be identified in order to protect the identity of the victim, indicated at Galway Circuit Criminal Court this week that his client would avail of Judge Brian O’Callaghan’s offer and would sell off some of his assets to raise the €12,000.

Earlier in the sentence hearing, the now-17-year-old victim told the court the seven-year delay in bringing her father to justice had caused her and her mother untold grief and suffering.

“It’s been seven years, dealing with court dates and adjournments and only now, seven years later, have I got the closure I needed,” she said.

The judge apologised to her and everyone else involved for the delay in finalising the case.

“Even allowing for Covid, it is without question that the judicial, legal, criminal system has failed all parties in this case and it’s appropriate I should give that apology,” Judge O’Callaghan said.

Prosecuting state counsel, Conall MacCarthy, said the man maintained his innocence when arrested and interviewed in April 2016.

He had been due to stand trial on two occasions in the last few years but each time his trial was adjourned for various reasons, including Covid.

He then pleaded guilty, moments before his trial was eventually due to get underway last November, to a charge of sexually assaulting the girl on August 15, 2015, at the family home near a Co. Galway village.

Sentence was adjourned on four occasions since to await the results of a probation report before it was finalised this week.

Resd the full court report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Hero’s welcome for king of the high seas

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Atlantic rower Damian Browne holds a flare as he enters Galway Docks to a hero’s reception. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

“I just had a deep belief I was going to complete it – and nothing was going to stop me.”

Those were the words of former Connacht rugby player and now transatlantic rower Damian Browne who returned to a hero’s welcome at Galway Docks on Tuesday, just hours after his mammoth journey came to an end on the rocks at Furbo.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, 42-year-old Browne’s vessel, the Cushlamachree, came ashore just down from Pádraicín’s – not the ending the Renmore man wanted for his epic trip from New York to Galway.

The journey was due to end at the Docks at 11am on Tuesday morning, but as it turned out, Browne had a few hours at home before being met by huge crowds who, despite the rain, came out in their hundreds to welcome the extreme adventurer back.

Children from schools across the city were among the hoards of people who lined the Harbour, including those from his alma mater, St Joseph’s (The Bish) who formed a guard of honour with oars to greet Browne.

His arrival to the Docks, escorted by Galway Harbourmaster Brian Sheridan, was met with endless cheers as drumbeat and flares signalled the end of his four months at sea.

“The winds coming from the south were blowing me up through the Aran Islands and it was great to get me through the islands, but then they kept pushing me towards the north coast of Galway and nothing I could do would stop them,” says Browne of the final hours of his journey.

“Before I knew it, I was at Pádraicín’s and heading for Barna, trying to get into Barna Pier to anchor down . . . it was very tense. I saw two rocks that I knew were there, but I thought I was further out, and then I had to whip the boat around.

“I had about two seconds to whip it around, 270 degrees, and head straight out to sea, but as I did, I got hit by a massive wave.”

The boat capsized, one of his oars broke and it was at that moment he knew it was time to get up on the rocks and call for assistance.

Get the full dramatic story – and full coverage of the welcome home – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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