A heartbroken mother has told Meath Live of her devastating frustration at the red tape that is forcing her into an agonising wait to see her seriously ill son in Adelaide, Australia.
Three weeks ago Catriona McGeough from Headfort Grove in Kells received the heartbreaking news that her son Shane had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
And ever since Catriona has been pleading with the Department of Home Affairs in Australia to send her a vital visa that she needs to go and see him, but the country’s strict Covid rules are causing problems.
She said, ‘At the moment there are just seventy people a day being allowed in and even when I get there I have to quarantine for fourteen days in a government-approved centre, but I’ll go through all that just so long as I eventually get to see Shane.
‘It’s costly too, we have been trying to sort things through a travel agent in London and the best price he can come up with is £7000 sterling as apparently, the only flights allowed in are cargo planes which have only a few business class seats available on each one.
‘Shane’s partner, Michelle Farrell is also from Kells, they have a young daughter called Harlow, and Michelle’s Mum, Mary is due to travel with me, but she is facing the same difficulty.
The Home Affairs people in Australia are sticking to the rules, we even had to get a letter from his specialist in Adelaide confirming his diagnosis, they have told us they will try to bump us up on the list for entry but they have had us jumping through hoops for the last three weeks.
‘My big concern is not being able to be hands-on, Shane’s my only child and I just want to be with him and to give him a hug.
‘It’s a 22-hour flight but I wouldn’t care if it was 50 hours I just want to be with him.’
Devastated Catriona recalled how Shane broke the bad news to her.
‘He called me on FaceTime one morning and asked if his dad, Kevin, was up as he needed to talk to us, I woke Kevin, and we both kind of knew there was bad news coming, I honestly thought he was going to tell us that either Harlow was ill or that he himself had caught Covid.
‘When he told us he had a brain tumour the bottom fell out of my world!
‘Shane’s 38 next week and has never been seriously ill before, at the moment he is undergoing treatment to shrink the tumour, and we are hoping that when that happens we can get him back home to continue his treatment here.
‘There’ll probably be a whole lot more red tape to go through to do that but at the moment I can’t even think that far ahead, my whole focus is on getting to see him.
‘It’s the delay that is soul-destroying, of course, I understand the Covid complications, but understanding them doesn’t change the fact that I want to be with my only child when they need me.’
A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover the costs of Shane’s flight home and medical expenses and so far has reached over €20k.
Donations can be made here; https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-shane-fight-this-illness?qid=b00a54de1759684f4aec6048da7115c4