Uachtarán na hÉireann, President Michael D. Higgins, has encouraged households and schools around the country to watch the documentary, ‘Patrick: A Young Traveller Lost’, which will be aired tonight on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player at 9.35pm.
The film examines the issue of the alarmingly high suicide rates among the Irish Traveller community through the deeply personal story of 12-year-old Patrick McDonagh, from Finglas in Dublin, who died by suicide last year.
The documentary follows Patrick’s parents, Michelle and Pat, as they come to terms with their loss and explores the wider challenges facing the community. It also features a compelling first-hand account from Bernie Power, a Traveller Outreach worker from Kilkenny, on the inner turmoil of those from the Traveller community struggling with poor mental health and the real-life positive impact of reaching out for help.
President Higgins attended a special screening of the film in the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin last Thursday night, where he met with Patrick’s parents Michelle and Pat and their family, Bernie Power, and other members of the Traveller community who have contributed to the film.
In a statement, President Higgins said:
"What an honour it was to attend an advance screening of 'Patrick: A Young Traveller Lost'. Even though I am familiar with the issues with which the Travelling Community struggle, the personal testimonies of Patrick McDonagh's parents and Bernie Power moved me in a way I find difficult to describe.
It would be so valuable if all members of the public could see this film, which describes a life lost to bullying. An incredibly talented boy, interested in all aspects of life and full of curiosity, within one year had his life destroyed.
RTÉ and Alleycat Films have in my mind placed all of us in their debt in what is a splendid, valuable exercise in public service broadcasting. There are so many reasons I could think of why this film should be seen in every household, and it would be just incredibly valuable if it were seen in every school."