WORK has finished on a new documentary on the death of North Clare woman Emer O’Loughlin, which will be broadcast on TG4 in May.
A talented artist, Emer was 23 years of age when her body was discovered in a burnt out mobile home at Ballybornagh, Tubber on April 8, 2005. Subsequent forensic tests showed that she was murdered.
Seventeen years on there still has not been a conviction. A man named John Griffin, who lived close to Emer and her partner, is someone that Gardai wish to speak to about the matter.
Following an incident on Inis Mór shortly after her death, he was taken into custody by Gardai, and subsequently brought into psychiatric care in Ballinasloe. However, he was allowed to leave a few days later, went back to the Aran Islands and is thought to have attempted to fake his own death there.
He is subsequently known to have travelled from London to Germany. Gardai believe he may have lived in Europe under an assumed name, while the family have also received information that he may have moved to Morrocco.
Originally from Mervue in Galway City, Griffin has a history of violence and drug addiction.
While this week has seen some new posts on the Facebook page Justice For Emer O’Loughlin for the first time in a few years, Emer’s sister Pam O’Loughlin said this is not due to the publicity around the death of Ashling Murphy.
“The activity on the page is just coincidental, it’s because we’ve been involved in a TG4 programme. We did some filming in the summer and we’ve viewed it now and it’s going to be coming out.”
Pam said that while the hope is that the new documentary could result in additional information, it might not happen.
“We have done several programmes at this stage and we haven’t got anywhere. We’re not holding out a huge amount of hope that it’ll do something but you never know, it might do.”
She said that the new programme looks at Emer’s life, the murder and various people speak about her and the crime.
Asked how the family are coping 17 years on from the tragedy, she said, “Well, you just do, you just get on with it. We have no other choice really. We’ve been up and down, had hopes dashed for years and years now.”
The tragedy of Emer’s death has been compounded by the fact that there has never been justice.
“The entire country basically ground to a halt this week, but Emer is basically yesterday’s news. You have the actual tragedy, but then the person who potentially did it is out there, free as a bird somewhere. It’s very unfair, very wearing on a family and it has been part of our lives for 17 years now.”
While Griffin behaved in a very strange manner after the death and was in Garda custody for a period of time, he was let go and vanished, and Pam is understandably angry.
“It was almost like they had never dealt with something like this before, it was a mess right from the start.”
She said that anyone with information, who may have been afraid to speak out in 2005, should do so now.
“If anybody knows anything do the right thing and come forward. Not just about Griffin, if anyone knows anything about the case, the murder, what happened or didn’t happened, come forward. Anyone who was frightened to come forward at the time, should, by now, be able to do the right thing.”
Pam said that there is a serious risk that the person who murdered Emer could do the same thing to someone else.
She said that nothing will ever bring Emer back, but a successful investigation would provide some comfort. “There’s no closure, we’re not going to feel wonderful if he’s found, but at least we’d get some form of justice.”
Emer’s father Johnny saw the documentary on Monday and was delighted with it. “It’s brilliant, brilliant. It’s coming out in May and there were here to show it to me.”
He said he had met with Gardai investigating the murder late last year, who said that while they have a certain amount of evidence, they need the man who disappeared to make further progress.
Johnny still hopes for justice and is glad that the documentary will again shine a light on the murder of his daughter.
“What can you do only hope, hope all the time. You have to keep it alive.”
Emer’s mother Josie died in 2015, without ever having seen justice for her daughter.