“Very few of my friends knew that I had a third brother. It wasn’t that I didn’t want them to know who he was, but I was afraid of the comments they would pass because people can be very quick to judge based on appearance. Matthew has been an active drug user for much of his life and had a tough outer-shell, and he was a typical Northside Dubliner. On the inside, though, he was soft, loving, caring, and extremely intelligent.
Last December in a cramped radio studio, and after a lifetime of secrets, my brother shared his entire story with me for the first time. For years my parents told me that he was on holidays until I found his letters to my mam addressed from places like Mountjoy and Cloverfield; they sounded like lovely holiday places I thought. He told me the dark reason behind his addiction – enduring sexual abuse as a child -, the struggles he faced, the battles he fought with addiction and suicide, and the pain he went through – mentally and physically – from the moment his abuse began. My family only heard the interview the day his body was brought home for the last time. Perhaps if Matthew hadn’t been abused, then maybe things would be different; maybe he wouldn’t have used drugs or made the choices he did. The reality of it is that nobody chooses to become an addict. Matthew had a very happy and loving childhood; until he was abused. When his innocence was taken from him he chose to hide the truth behind a wave of crimes, violence, and addiction.”
“Matthew is dead two weeks today. I was initially filled with rage and anger that it had come to this. Prior to his death, he had been an in-patient of a mental institution. When he left the hospital he was prescribed prescription after prescription of muscle relaxants and sleeping tablets. Where is the logic and responsibility in giving an active drug-user prescribed medication to numb his feelings? I’m angry at the system, and the way in which thousands of people like Matthew are treated. Nobody chooses to become an addict; you don’t wake up one morning and decide that your life is going to be dictated by a substance, and this is something that I struggled to understand for a long time. Prior to knowing my brother’s story, I would have been quick to turn a blind eye at a homeless person or an addict on the street. How about trying this next time you see a homeless person or an addict on the street: instead of passing comment or judgement, why not think for a second that that person is someone’s sibling, loved one, and child. It’s time that we, as a society change, our perceptions of addiction, start treating addiction properly, and start saving lives.”
-After the loss of Matthew, Niamh publicly released her documentary, “The Gospel According to Matthew” which is a completely true and honest look at the life of a troubled man and what came to be just another statistic in the Irish penal system. Please take a little time to listen to her interview here:
——->The Gospel According to Matthew<——-