The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that a man on death row in America has now been granted Irish citizenship and is receiving consular assistance.
Michael Fitzpatrick is facing the death penalty for a second time having been accused of capital murder in Florida — and his retrial begins today.
International organisation Reprieve has followed his case since last year and had called on the Government to get involved, as they fear he could be found guilty again despite serious questions over his original conviction, which led to a retrial being called earlier this year.
Reprieve case worker Hannah Gorman said his lawyers in his first trial “completely failed him” and left him on death row for a decade.
Michael Fitzpatrick, 51, had been sentenced to death for a 1996 fatal stabbing in Pasco County. He was born in America but his parents are understood to have come from Tipperary.
Ms Gorman told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that both the Florida Circuit and Supreme Courts had found his lawyers had been incompetent. She said the victim had also said that Fitzgerald was not her attacker, while DNA evidence also indicated that it was someone else.
“Ireland hasn’t yet provided assistance to Michael Fitzpatrick and there is a lot they could do,” she said.
“We do not want to see history repeating itself.”
She added consular protection could be provided and urged the department to provide written representations on his behalf.
In a statement yesterday the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “Mr Michael Fitzpatrick was granted Irish citizenship last week.
“As a result, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to Mr Fitzpatrick and will notify the relevant US authorities of our interest in the case.
“The department has met with and is in regular contact with Reprieve in relation to this case.”
It is understood Mr Fitzpatrick may have applied for Irish citizenship last year.
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