So it has been almost two years since Mark’s arrest and 9 months since the trial and I finally feel I have the strength to begin to start to write about it. But first just a quick update as to what has been happening over the past few months. I post updates every week on Facebook but I am aware that people follow this site who aren’t on Facebook. I will figure out how to do a rolling update on this soon also. A quick summary of the past few months:
We held our first fundraiser, the Family Fun Day and Auction which was attended by close family and friends and a few members of the public and hotel guests. We received great support from local businesses with auction lots and raffle prizes, and we are very grateful for the people who made the effort to come. My father’s Golf Classic also received great support from many golf clubs etc. with some fantastic prizes however unfortunately then we struggled to get enough teams to support the event. The event has been postponed with the villa raffle until later this year when we hope it will be easier to get teams to sign up.
We have an upcoming collection on the 22nd September in Cork that my aunt has arranged.
Finally the bank account is up and running as well as the PayPal account so people can support by purchasing solidarity bands etc. To everyone who has helped us so far it is so very much appreciated.
Pending Appeal: To date the only information we have received since Mark and Andreas sentencing in January has been the trial transcripts and justification for the verdict and sentence which Mark’s lawyer received in June 2012. We have yet to be informed of the details of this document with the lawyer telling us “there is no justification – it’s all rubbish”. We are unable to afford the cost of translating this to find out for ourselves @ 2,200 euro however we have had an offer of some support from the Socialist Party who are looking into maybe resolving this issue for us. The courthouse here in Crete has been “on holidays” for the month of August so I am hoping in the coming weeks we may hear something.
Back home I have met with the director and case worker from The Innocence Project at Griffith College who are endeavouring to help us strengthen the documentation we have already and also retrieve the evidence we have been unable to get, Aer Lingus flight confirmation and CCTV footage from the airport etc.
From the onset of this nightmare, Mr. Liam Aylward MEP and his assistant Laura have endeavored to raise our concerns at a European level as well as with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. After the trial in January 2012 he was joined by Brian Crowly MEP in their attempts to get the Department of Foreign Affairs to step up and highlight our concerns with the Greek Government. Mr. Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP also made representations to the EU Commission on our behalf. Shortly after this, Mr. Paul Murphy MEP’s assistant arranged a meeting with our campaign and members of the Socialist Party. They have been a great support on the ground in Ireland, actively trying to get the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Greek Ambassador to engage with us however to date little progress has been made. We are slowly working towards a meeting with the Oireachtas Committee for Foreign Affairs and a parade outside the Greek Embassy in Dublin towards the end of this month which I hope people will come along and support. We have been in correspondence with 50 to 60 ministers and TD’s cross party however all their efforts have been “fobbed off” by the department by a regurgitated statement from the Tanaiste that does not answer any of the requests.
As I said, I hope I will have more to update on progress made with regards to this by the end of this month.
Our local TD Billy Timmins has also endeavored to assist us since the beginning and has been recently joined by Pat Deering TD. They arranged a meeting for my parent’s with Ms. Lucinda Creighton, Minister for European Affairs following our protest outside the Dail. Unfortunately this meeting was merely a formality, to get us “off her back”. My father raised the issue of the prosecutor claiming that all Mark’s Irish documents were falsified and her response was dumbfounding. She declared that she believed “Irish state documents get dismissed everyday throughout the world” and was not prepared to do anything to help authenticate them or make a complaint about this to the Greek authorities. My father also raised the issue of having an independent observer present to which she responded “that won’t happen, there is no precedent for this”.
I also met the Irish Ambassador to Greece, Mr. Charles Sheehan, on my recent return to Ireland. To say I was disappointed with his lack of support or interest in helping us would be an understatement, particularly after his parting words “that there was a justice system in Greece and to stop fighting it”. I was disgusted and told him not to dare ask me to do such a thing after my husband has been WRONGFULLY INCARCERATE for nearly two years. He reassured me that the prison’s in Crete were not full of Irish citizens, which I assured him I was fully aware of that, but they were in fact “full of Albanians, one being my husband, as they do not receive the support us Irish are lucky enough to be entitled to”.
So to date all our efforts with the Department of Foreign Affairs have not been successful. We recently met with Ms. Maureen O’Sullivan TD from the Foreign Affairs Oireachtas Committee, who with the support of Senator Norris and more recently Mr. Eric Byrne TD will endeavour to help us get the opportunity to make a presentation to the committee and request their support.
I think that is pretty much all the update news on the Campaign thus far. Mark and Andreas are doing okay. It has been a few weeks since I have spoken to Andreas, though Mark and their brother Martin speak with him regularly. Mark’s parent’s recently travelled from Albania to visit both boys, stopping in Athens to see Andreas as he was transferred there in early summer, while Mark was left in Neapoli. The strain of the past two years is very evident on both parent’s and they have developed many health issues because of the stress of this nightmare.
Until next time.