Gillian and Ronan Treacy were speaking after Finbarr O’Rourke was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for dangerous driving causing 4-year-old Ciarán’s death on April 17, 2014.
After sentencing, Gillian said her family’s sentence began the day her car was hit by the drink driver.
“Unfortunately we had to lose our little boy, but hopefully this is going to put a stop to people doing this to other people,” she said. “This is reality, this is what drink-driving does.
“Our family is destroyed, both the Ryan and Treacy family, so hopefully this stops some other people from doing this to another family.
“Ciarán was a beautiful child. He was the light of our lives, he was the energy in our home and that has been taken from us; a lovely, witty, beautiful boy that shouldn’t have been taken from us so brutally and suddenly by the actions of a drink driver.
“I would plead with everybody not to drink and drive. This is the result of drink driving, it devastates lives and I just hope nobody ever does this to another family.”
Gillian was seriously injured in the head-on crash. She was conscious during the hour it took to cut her free from her car, and was aware of paramedics working on her two sons at the roadside. Since the collision, she has undergone 10 operations and may yet lose part of her leg.
Gillian and Ronan thanked people who had sent letters of support and messages from around Ireland since their victim impact statement was made public last week.
Commenting on the statement, Gillian said: “That statement that both myself and Ronan made, it was from the heart. It was the truth, it was the facts, 24 hours in our home that is what we are living with every minute of the day.
“I just hope that people will read that statement and think twice before they get into a car and drive if they are under the influence of alcohol.”
The couple praised the compassionate staff at Portlaoise and Tullamore hospitals.
“I cannot fault the hospital system,” she said. “They were absolutely fantastic, they pulled out every stop. As you know, Ciarán was allowed be with me overnight and it was a credit to Tullamore Hospital for what they did, in Portlaoise, sensitivity was paramount.”
When asked where she finds her strength, Gillian said: “It comes from Ciarán, absolutely. He is the one that keeps us going, and our other two kids, we have to be parents to them no matter what and they give us the strength to keep going.”
However, she admitted it can be difficult when their 3-year-old daughter Caoimhe asks when is Ciarán coming back.
“That’s when it gets hard, you have to explain. Children don’t understand that death is permanent,” she said.
“We include him in everything, sometimes it’s lovely because we feel he is here.”
Solicitor John Browne read a statement on behalf of the family.
He said: “The Treacys are living the nightmare that every parent dreads.
“They are an ordinary hard-working family whose lives have been changed forever.
“Words cannot express their anger their grief or their revulsion towards the drunk driver who robbed Gillian and Ronan of their beloved son and Caoimhe and Sean of the brother they deserved but now will never have.”
Mr Browne said “those feelings will not outweigh the love and cherished memories of Ciarán which sustain them through their darkest hours”.
“The family want to acknowledge the court’s verdict and the sentence handed down, which they hope will act as a warning and a deterrent to others.”