Former TD Charlie O’Connor has spoken of his pain at losing his son to a suspected drug overdose just hours after missing a call from him.
Robert O’Connor, 35, was found dead at his home in Dublin last April and his family are awaiting an inquest to determine how exactly he died.
His father, a former Fianna Fáil TD for Tallaght and now a member of South Dublin County Council, said he would always wonder about a call Robert made to him late on the night he is thought to have died.
“On the night I believe he died I have a missed call at three minutes past 11. I’ll always wonder what if, what if I answered it? Was he saying goodbye to me, was he telling me he was OK, was he telling me he needed me quick?”
Robert was the second of three sons and he lived with his father when his parents separated so they had been very close. Robert’s mother, Pauline, took the news of his death very hard and suffered a heart attack.
Mr O’Connor said the whole experience had been very difficult. “Every single one of us has been bereaved... but this is completely different and has shaken me and has changed my life.”
Robert struggled with alcoholism which Mr O’Connor admitted he struggled to understand.
He had worked for a time with his father in the Dáil, was acting part-time, had a film, Spider’s Trap, in post-production and was back in college studying business. He also had a daughter he loved dearly.
Mr O’Connor said the day before Robert died, he had asked for money to buy a book. “I waited for weeks wondering what book came — and here’s my rough-and-tumble young fella — when the book came from Amazon, it was an introduction to English poetry.”
Robert had also written to a hospital several weeks before he died, enclosing a letter from his GP which said he was ready to engage with alcohol treatment services. The reply came weeks after he died.
“I know the system is under pressure but more should be done about mental health.”
He praised his former Dáil colleagues in particular FF leader Micheál Martin who has suffered the loss of two of his children. “He told me, be calm, keep a routine, trust your community. My community have been so helpful.”
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