A young woman who was the victim of a shooting last year has spoken out about the vicious abuse she has received since the gunman was jailed.
Ciara Sheehan was shot in the neck last year when Gavin Sheehan fired a gun through the window of a house in Cork. He received an eleven-year sentence in court last week.
At the time Judge Ó Donnabháin described Sheehan’s sending of a Christmas card to Ciara as ’reprehensible behaviour’.
Speaking about the incident on this morning’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show, Ciara read a passage from the card:
"I hope you don’t be upset by this," Sheehan wrote. "I just want to say sorry for what happened to you and I defo have no bitterness between you. I’m done with all that stuff.
"I wish you and Dylan the best in life and that’s from the heart, and the only thing I’m concentrated on is getting out and building a life for my daughter. Tell the Cunninghams and all your family I’m so sorry.
"Try and have a good Christmas. I hope you do so and I’m glad you made a full recovery and I wish you the best in your life."
Ciara, who was left with a visible scar on her neck, went on to reject the apology, describing it as "blaggarding".
"In the Christmas card it says ’sorry for anything I’ve done to you’. He’s saying sorry in the card, but what’s he saying sorry for if he pleaded not guilty?"
Ciara has been subjected to online abuse since Sheehan was sentenced, and she and her family have been asking Cork City Council to move them from the area for a number of months.
"People close to Gavin had left comments saying ’she’ll have more than a bullet wound next time’, ’she should have died when the bullet hit her’," Ciara said.
"It’d be good for us to get out of here and have a fresh start.
"It’s left me bad really, to be honest. Constantly upset, paranoid, anxious. I’m always getting anxiety attacks. Some nights I can’t sleep. I get my bad days, I get really bad days sometimes. I think it’d be better for us all really to get out of here and have a fresh start.
"There was a lot of abuse [in court]. I was getting looks off some people. Threats. ’I’m going to get you’. I’ve done nothing wrong. Why am I getting these threats for something he done? They just can’t accept the fact that he done it and they don’t believe it."
Ciara’s mother, Susan, worries about her daughter’s safety in their home of 20 years since the abusive messages began to appear.
"They’re wishing her dead, that the next time they’l get her," she said. "They said they’re going to basically finish the job.
"We’ve been here for 20 years. Since this happened it does not feel like our home.
"We don’t feel safe here anymore."
Susan’s partner, Alan, echoed her concerns.
"The threats that came across worried us, the threats to Ciara’s life. They were horrible things to be reading," he said.
Susan believes the people sending threatening messages are influenced by gangland culture and programmes like ’Love/Hate’.
"It’s like they’re living in a telly land," she said. "It’s like they’re living in that kind of bubble. it’s like they’re not living in normal reality at all.
"They don’t realise what they’re after doing to another family. They nearly killed someone. It’s a big joke kind of a thing to them. They nearly killed a young girl."