Dwyer’s trip abroad to ‘better career’

SECURITY worker Michael Dwyer, who was shot dead by police in Bolivia, went there with two colleagues to better his career prospects, his heartbroken mother told his inquest yesterday.

Two months into his trip he made the fatal decision to remain in the south American country when his friends returned home.

He was later shot through the heart by security forces over an alleged plot to assassinate the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales.

His mother Caroline, told the inquest her son’s death had “shattered our lives forever”.

She said Michael spent a number of weeks at home after finishing a security job with Integrated Risk Management Services in Mayo before taking a flight to Bolivia on November 17, 2008.

He told his family he was doing a course in close protection security there and his intention was to return home in January, but he later extended his stay in the country until the end of April as there were no jobs in Ireland.

She said he felt it was an opportunity to travel and to improve his work skills.

His family believed he was meeting others in Madrid before flying to the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. “He felt it would help him further down the road,” his mother said.

She said while in Bolivia Michael said he was working in security, but he didn’t say who he was working for or where he was staying.

Her son rang at Christmas, she said, and again in January to wish his younger brother Emmet and his grandmother a happy birthday. He decided to extend his visa.

Mr Dwyer’s last email home was on Mother’s Day.

Then on April 17 a man called the family home in the village of Ballinderry, Co Tipperary, and asked Mr Dwyer’s father, Martin, if he had a son working in south America and hung up.

Mr Dwyer called his wife who quickly did a search on the internet and discovered an Irish man had been shot dead by police.

Bloodied pictures of their dead son appeared in newspapers the next day.

His siblings Aisling, 23, Ciara, 22, and 14-year-old Emmet were devastated.

Mr Dwyer and two foreign nationals he had worked with at security firm IRMS travelled out when their contacts ran out. The firm said they had no knowledge of the course or their planned trip.

His colleagues returned home when the course never transpired.

The Dwyer family said they still wanted to know exactly what happened on that fatal night in Bolivia.

“Only a well-resourced investigation, meeting internationally recognised standards, into the circumstances of Michael’s violent death can help us find the truth and we urge the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, to mobilise such an investigation,” they said.

In a statement read by solicitor Paul Malone, they described Michael as a loving and much-loved grandson, son and brother.

“Every day for the past six months, we have grieved his loss and – every time we think of that fatal day in April – we are numbed,” they said.

“That ‘single bullet through his heart’ has gone straight through our hearts too.

“We cannot come to terms with losing Michael and have found it very difficult to return to the routine of our lives: we miss him so much, the wonderful personality that was Michael Dwyer.”

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