Carmel Collins and her family faced down violence and intimidation from gangland thugs who murdered her innocent son Roy, so that other families would not have to suffer a similar hell, her funeral mass heard today.
The Collins family faced prolonged threats from the notorious Dundon criminal gang, after members of the family testified in a criminal trial against the gang’s leader Wayne Dundon.
As retribution, Carmel’s 35-year old son, Roy, a father of two, was gunned down in his arcade business in Roxboro this month 10 years ago, by members of the Dundon criminal gang.
Subsequently, Wayne Dundon of Lenihan Avenue, Prospect, was jailed for life for ordering the murder. The gunman, James Dillon, of no fixed abode, also received a life sentence, as did his getaway driver Nathan Killeen, of Hyde Road, Prospect.
Ms Collins, aged in her 60s, passed away peacefully at Milford Hospice last Sunday, following a battle with cancer.
In a loving tribute, her husband, Steve, told mourners Carmel “was now out of her pain and suffering” and “on her way” to meet their “beautiful son Roy”.
“We went through some very hard times when we lost our son Roy, and I never thought I’d have to go through that heartache again,” he said.
Mr Collins, applauded by the congregation at St John’s Cathedral, thanked people for their continued support and “wonderful comments about Carmel”, describing her as “a lady” and “a woman of decency and respect”.
Continuing the poignant love letter to “my beautiful wife”, he said the “pain” of losing Roy “and the stress that came with it” had “taken our beautiful lady”.
Carmel was their “rock”, he added.
The family were relocated abroad in a garda witness protection programme following Roy’s killing, but have since returned to Limerick city.
“This illness has taken away our wonderful lady. She did everything she could to stay with us, but God wanted her to be safe and to keep us safe. She’ll never been forgotten,” Mr Collins added.
He said Carmel had “left (her) mark on this earth, as a wife, as a mother, and as a friend”.
“She always had a love of family and great neighbours and a great community.”
Speaking a few feet from his beloved wife’s coffin ordained with lily flowers beside her photograph, Mr Collins spoke of his wife’s dedication to her faith, and her love for St John’s Cathedral, where they had been married over 40 years previously.
“I’m sure God has rolled out the red carpet for her in recognition of her deep faith,” he said.
Their children and grandchildren “brought her love and happiness, something I thought would never come back to her after Roy’s death.”
Very Reverend Fr Frank O’Connor, CC, St John’s, said Steve and Carmel “fulfilled and lived” their marriage “vows”, “ in good times but also in the most difficult way any couple could be expected to”.
Quoting 18th century Irish statesman, Edmund Burke, “for evil to triumph it was enough for good men to do nothing” he addressed Mr Collins: “Steve, when you and Carmel were faced with intimidation and violence, not once but several times, especially in Roy’s death, you could have done nothing, you could have allowed fear to keep you silent but you didn’t, at great risk and huge cost, led thousands of us, Limerick people, onto the streets and took a stand.”
“You hungered and you thirst for what is right and you made a difference. Both attitudes and laws were changed, courage triumphed, Limerick was changed and lives were saved.”
“Carmel was the quiet and strong heart at the centre of all this and we are grateful to her and to all of you, this is part of her legacy to you, her loving and loved family, and to the people of Limerick and beyond,” Fr O’Connor said.
Despite her illness Carmel had attended her son Roy’s anniversary mass two weeks ago.
Fr O’Connor said this was “another powerful part of Carmel’s legacy”, her strength “in the face of grief and illness”.
“That day it was obvious that Carmel’s health was failing, but she was here as always, and while I was listening to Stephen’s reading, just now, I couldn’t help but think that while the words may be the words of St Paul but the voice could be that of Carmel; ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’.”
He called on the people of Limerick to be “inspired” by Carmel and Steve and their family “to continue to fight the good fight for what is right and just”.
Ms Collins, who was laid to rest in Kilmurray Cemetery, Castletroy, is survived by her husband Steve; sons Paul, Steven Jnr, and Ryan; and daughter Leanne.