The family of murdered St Colmcilles Gaelic footballer Joe Deacy say they’ll “never give up” in their quest for the truth, and to see his killer brought to justice.
Joe’s father, Adrian, his mother Alison and his sister Charlotte were joined by family and friends last Saturday evening at St Albans Irish Club – the home of St Colmcilles’ – to mark the third anniversary of his death.
“We’ll never give up,” Adrian Deacy told the Irish World. “We’ll never go away.
“Until my dying day I’ll never give up. And then there’s Charlotte after me. While there’s breath in our bodies none of us – and that’s the whole family – will ever give up.”
Joe’s body discovered outside a friend’s house in which he was staying in Gortnasillagh, near Swinford, Co Mayo, on 12 August.
He died the following day at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
A post-mortem found the cause of death was due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Gardai launched a murder enquiry and while arrests have been made, as yet no one has been charged. They believe three people have knowledge of what happened to Joe that night.
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Members of the family living at the house in Gortnasillagh were interviewed by police and the property searched on two occasions, but no significant evidence found.
“What happened is beyond a tragedy,” added Adrian, whose father was born in the nearby village of Bohola.
“Joe was harmless – there wasn’t an ounce of malice in him. He lived for the Craic.
“He had his whole life ahead of him. He had a good job and a fantastic set of mates – there were no clouds in his life at all.”
After three years, police and the Deacy family are still left with many unanswered questions.
Those centre around what happened in the two and a half hours between 4am, when Joe is known to have been active on social media inside the house, and approximately 6.30am when his body was discovered.
Also, why the owners of the property commissioned a private post-mortem examination, as reported in the Sunday Times.
Speaking to the Irish Independent recently, the homeowner said he and his family had “nothing to do with it”.
The Deacy family’s anguish and frustration has been exacerbated by a delay in an inquest date being set.
It’s more than a year since gardia submitted a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), but as yet no verdict has been returned. Until that happens, no inquest can take place.
“We’ve just got to wait and see – everything is on hold,” said Adrian.
The family’s solicitor, Tony Murphy, of Bhatt Murphy, recently said: “Taking over three years to arrive at a decision whether to institute criminal proceedings is a breach of the prosecutor’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
“This is no way to treat the victims of such a serious crime. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Recently, Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK, Adrian O’Neill, pledged his support to the family of murdered St Albans Gaelic footballer Joe Deacy, and promised to “bring the family’s concerns to the attention of the relevant Irish authorities”.
The case has also been brought to the attention of UK Government Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
The case was raised with Mr O’Neill and Mr Raab by Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans.
“Joe’s murder is a tragedy made all the worse by a painful three-year wait just to find out whether there is enough evidence to pursue a criminal case,” said Ms Cooper.
“Joe’s family deserve to know what happened to their son. Mr Raab and the ambassador should work with the Irish authorities to conclude the review of the evidence, hold a public inquest and bring an end to the family’s wait.”
On 9 August, family and friends of Joe’s made the now annual memorial walk – starting at the junction of the N5 Kinaffe L1901 to the house in Gortnasillagh, before laying flowers outside of the house.
Adrian remains hopeful that justice will be done, but says that rests on three individuals.
“I’m still optimistic, but it’s been a long time thinking someone’s going to say something. To date they haven’t,” he said.
“There’s been an incredible amount of support for the last three years, but it boils down to three people.”
When that day does come, however, he says it won’t bring him any happiness.
“A lot of people will be happy because justice will have been done, but for close [family] members – Alison, Charlotte and I – so what knowing they’re behind bars? Joe isn’t coming back,” he said.
“But there are so many people who are trying to get these three people to cooperate, because justice needs to be seen to be done.”