Joe was known to the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO), a project of the Irish Chaplaincy, since 1987, more than 30 years. With no family we were his only family, and he would ring the office daily. Over the many years, Fr Gerry and Liz would regularly visit Joe as he had never received a social visit. He was released for a short period into the community to a supported living facility for lifers, but this did not work out as Joe wanted to go back to prison where he felt safest. Joe was born in 1941 and was in and out of institutions from the age of 7, however his learning difficulties were not recognised until later in life.
Joe spent the last two years of his life in a nursing home as he had a stroke and was suffering with early onset dementia. Joe passed away naming Fr Gerry McFlynn, ICPO Project Manager as his Next of Kin. Fr. Gerry arranged Joe’s funeral and said the Mass. There were three others in attendance from the Irish Chaplaincy, Liz, Ellena and me. There were no other mourners. Although very sad, it was a lovely service and Joe had a proper and fitting funeral and not a ‘pauper’s funeral’, which would have been the case had Gerry not covered the initial cost.
Joe’s case was very sad, and he got lost in the system for more than 35 years. He was known to Sr. Agnes Hunt – Chaplain at HMP Wormwood Scrubs and later an ICPO volunteer – from the mid 1980’s, who once said, “We need to do something about Joe, I can’t sleep at night”. With this in mind, Fr Gerry asked Anita (a solicitor) to take his case on. It was down to Fr. Gerry and Anita and the few of us at the Irish Chaplaincy that knew Joe to make sure he was looked after. This was an honour, and he will be missed.
The Irish Chaplaincy did not want to see Joe in a Pauper’s grave and therefore Paul Raymond, our Senior’s Project Manager, with the help of Caritas, a Catholic social action organisation raised funeral costs, the shortfall being covered by the Irish Chaplaincy and the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas in Maynooth, Ireland.
RIP Joe Maguire, we will never forget you!
Written by Breda Power