Family members of a Sixmilebridge man killed thirty seven years ago in unexplained circumstances are confident of ‘turning a corner’ in their long search for answers.
On Friday, family members of the late Patrick Nugent met with officials from the Department of Justice. For more than three decades, the Nugents have been seeking answers into Patrick’s death, subsequent manslaughter trial and inquest.
Mr Nugent was working as a banqueting manager at Bunratty Castle, when he was found dead in the Folk Park near the popular tourist attraction on 11th February 1984.
In October of 1985, a jury at the inquest into Pat’s death said it was satisfied that he had been struck by persons or persons unknown, causing him to fall to the ground and that car no 643 KIE (owned by William Ryan, a well known chef from Shannon) accidentally hit him, causing internal injuries from which he died. The incident had come in the early hours of the morning, at a party to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of Ryan.
While Pat died after being struck by the vehicle, what has not become apparent even now is how the 23-year-old hotel manager, who had been in charge of running the celebration, came to be lying on the ground and who he had been referring to in his dying words which were “he clocked me, he clocked me, he clocked me”.
An 111 page inquiry into how Gardaí investigated the death was completed by former judge Patrick Clyne and issued to the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee (FG) in November of last year. Despite Minister McEntee issuing commitments that the report would be published fairly soon after, the Nugent family have been waiting close to a year to see its contents.
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys (FG) has been had the Justice portfolio added to her workload during Minister McEntee’s maternity leave. She previously defended the delay which occurred due to a wait to receive advice from the Attorney General when speaking to The Clare Echo. “The Attorney General in fairness to him, there has been a lot of work there and when you think of all the regulations that have had to be signed because of COVID-19 and different things”.
Family solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law in Belfast issued a statement to The Clare Echo on behalf of the Nugent family following their meeting with Department officials. “We are pleased to announce we received a very firm commitment by the Justice Minster to release an 111 page report arising from an inquiry which concluded at this stage last year”.
He described the meetiing as “welcome and positive”. Winters added, “The family have had to wait a year to get news about the findings arising from the Section 42 inquiry. Thankfully we now have a timescale for the release of the report but I have to stress that at this stage everything remains confidential until further engagement with the Ministers office and due process is complete”.
Deirdre Nugent stated, “It’s been terribly frustrating to have to wait this length of time for justice. However we feel we are about to turn the corner now with news of the release of the report after 37 years since Patrick’s death”.