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'We set a place for Daddy at the Christmas table - I tell the children he's still with us'

A single mother has told her story after her husband died in prison in the hope that it will stop others getting into trouble.
Feb 2nd 2015, 7:15 AM 27,501 70

EVE DOYLE IS a single mother of four children. Her husband Pascal died in Mountjoy Prison last July at the age of just 31.

She’s telling her story about how she is coping in the aftermath in the hope that it will deter others from getting into trouble, and so people will realise the sentence the family also face when a family member is locked up.

“When you have someone in prison it’s a constant struggle, it’s not as if you struggle one one day and get on the next – it’s constant.”

Pascal was in prison for six weeks as part of a 6 month sentence when he died from a heart attack.

Eve told TheJournal.ie that he had been in and out of prison since he was 14 – starting in juvenile facilities.

I was 21 when I met Pascal…I knew he was a wild lad but I didn’t realise he was in so much trouble at the time.

“We would have been married about a year when he got the first prison sentence when were together. That was my first experience of prison life…it was very daunting and upsetting for me.”

The 29-year-old is taking part in a TV3 programme to address the effect Pascal’s serial offending had on her and their four children.

She says she wants people to see how difficult it is for the whole family when a person goes to prison:

I’m hoping someone in trouble will look at it and see how hard it is for families and make a change in their life. I’m doing this in Pascal’s memory so that his death won’t be in vain.

“Young lads don’t think of the consequences for the family. People think ‘Oh he was in prison and that’s his wife – that’s his kids. We’re all tarred with the one brush.”

Pascal was in jail when Eve gave birth to her youngest child. “I did get angry because I thought if he didn’t get into trouble he would be here.

It’s things like communions and confirmations and children understand that as well – their Daddy is not there and when they get older they’ll think Daddy wasn’t there because of crime.

Eve said at age 31 Pascal was only starting to realise prison wasn’t a good thing. He wrote her a letter saying ‘I don’t want you and my children having to come and see me in prison’.

Family life without Dad 

Eve’s four children are aged 4, 6, 8 and 11. She said the smaller ones don’t understand what has happened and still think their Dad is coming back home.

She said the oldest child is finding it very hard as he was “his Daddy’s boy” and the pair were very close.

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“Going into prison with the kids was so difficult. I was upfront with the older children but I told the younger ones that it was Daddy’s work, that he was a painter.

It’s very hard having to put your children through metal detectors and sniffer dogs to see their Dad.

Speaking about the family’s first Christmas without their father, Eve said:

We set a place for Daddy at the table- I tell the children he’s still with us.

“I’m finding it very hard and I’m getting counselling but honestly I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

Only for the children I would have given up a long time ago – they are keeping me going. You have to just put your best side out and keep going.

“It feels good to be able to speak about my experience- I feel like I’m doing this in his memory.”


Source: Motive Television/Vimeo

Prison Families S2 airs tonight at 9pm on TV3.

Read: There are 844 people under the age of 25 in Irish prisons>

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Cliodhna Russell

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