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21st Dec 2021

Micheál Martin opens up on the tragic passing of two of his kids

Ellen Fitzpatrick

He has opened up on the devastating loss of two of his five children.

Taoiseach Michéal Martin has opened up about how his life was completely turned around after the tragic deaths of two of his children, Ruairí and Léana.

Revealing how the loss shaped him as a person, the Taoiseach said it had a huge impact on his decision making, particularly when it comes to the pandemic.

Michéal and his wife Mary lost Ruairí in 1999 when he died of cot death at only five weeks old, with tragedy striking again in 2010 when their seven year old daughter Léana died of heart problems.

Explaining how grief takes over when you lose a loved one, the Taoiseach shared how his loss has a huge impact on how he made decisions with the pandemic, as his “number one priority [is] to prevent people from dying.”

Speaking with Brendan O’Connor Show on RTÉ radio, the Taoiseach said: “We all have personal experiences in life. It does give me a sense, I think, of the finality of when death occurs in a family, the devastation that occurs to a family.”

Saying the passing of his son caused him to suffer with a “lot of anxiety” as the “certainties of life” were suddenly gone, adding they has “changed” him as a person.

When he then lost his second child, Michéal said that the support he received from his “fantastic” network of family and friends really helped, saying: “They got us through what was a terrible trauma in the loss of Léana and Ruairí.”

Adding that he “resonated” with others across the country and has had others reach out to him after going through something similar.

“There are a lot of people out there who have had terrible trauma in their lives. The important thing is family and community and the need to get out there, engage again. You have to get up again and you do have to just get out again,” he added.

The Taoiseach previously told the Irish Times of the difficulty he has when he’s asked how many children he has.

“You will always say that you have the kids that you lost,” he said, adding that describing himself as a father of five “can be awkward for people”.

“You don’t want to make it awkward for other people, because they may not know, but you don’t want to say someone wasn’t part of our lives and our family.”