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President praises 'force of forgiveness' of Italian student left paralysed in Dublin attack in 1999

Guido Nasi was left paraplegic following the attack in 1999.

President Michael D Higgins meets Guido Nasi at Áras an Uachtaráin
President Michael D Higgins meets Guido Nasi at Áras an Uachtaráin
Image: Maxwell Photography

AN ITALIAN STUDENT who has left paralysed after being attacked in a Dublin park 20 years ago has been welcomed as a guest of honour at Áras an Uachtaráin.

President Michael D Higgins praised the “forgiveness and courage” shown by Guido Nasi and his mother Simonetta as he marked the 25th anniversary of Irish Tourist Assistance Service today.

The service assisted the pair when Guido was left paraplegic after he was hit over the head during an unprovoked attack in Fairview Park in 1999, when he was 17.

Dublin man James Osbourne was jailed for eight-and-a-half years for the attack, and was released in 2008.

In a speech today, Higgins said that Guido’s presence at Áras an Uachtaráin indicated the “infinite power of forgiveness and of courage”, as well the resiliance of the human spirit.

“I say to Simonetta on to Guido, whose body was broken, and Simonetta, whose heart must be broken, there were many people in Ireland who shared that heartbreak,” he said.

But [they] have been humbled by the sheer force of the forgiveness and love that they have indicated, and what they have made possible for us to be able to go on and celebrate the lives of Italian and Irish people together.

Higgins also acknowledged how the attack on Guido was a “life-changing event” which showed that Ireland must not only combat crime against its own citizens, but against those who visited.

“There is nothing more important than giving a practical definition to hospitality, than reaching out to those who are upset and frightened and distressed, ensuring that they are supported and assisted in reporting the crime,” he added.

Guido and Simonetta appeared on The Late Late Show last week, when a letter written by Simonetta thanking the people of Ireland for their hospitality was read out.

“We felt a great big hug from young and old… Thank you all for everything. It has been a pleasure knowing such a wonderful country,” she said.

Guido was also praised by Lisa Kennedy, CEO of the Irish Tourist Assistance Service, ahead of today’s visit.

“We are delighted that Guido and Simonetta are able to join us to meet the President,” she said.

“After what has happened to Guido, it is amazing to see his positivity and his genuine affection for Ireland and for all those who have helped him.”

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