Irishman Finbar Cafferkey killed fighting in Ukraine
• Yesterday 17:19
An Irishman in his 40s has been killed while battling Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, his family confirmed today.
Finbar Cafferkey, a native of Achill Island, Co Mayo, was a military volunteer with previous combat experience in Syria where he assisted Kurdish militia in their battle against ISIS.
He recently travelled to Ukraine to assist local forces there.
Reports of Mr Cafferkey’s death were confirmed by his father, Tom, at the family home in Cashel, Achill, this afternoon.
Mr Cafferkey declined to elaborate on the circumstances of his son’s death or offer any further comment.
“We are grieving…it’s a private matter. I don’t want to say anything further,” he stated.
It is understood the family will be issuing a statement later on the death.
Achill Island, where the Cafferkey family is well-liked and respected, has been numbed with grief since news came through of the tragic death.
One local person said: “We heard reports on Wednesday that Finbar had been killed but we were hoping against hope that the information was untrue.
“Now that his death has been confirmed we are absolutely devastated.”
Others on Achill Island spoke of Finbar’s commitment to humanitarian and environmental causes.
He took part in the Shell to Sea protests against the Corrib Gas project and, in later years, worked in Copenhagen on a construction project.
“Finbar was a man of principle,” another islander recalled. “I know that about eight years ago he worked on the border between Greece and Macedonia assisting coming off dinghies.
“It came as a bit of surprise when we learnt from newspaper reports that he had been fighting in Syria. Nobody around here, except perhaps his family, knew he was in Ukraine.
“I know that relatives have been concerned for his safety over the years. His family have been particularly worried”.
The dead man’s parents, Tom and Celine, are being comforted by close relatives and neighbours. Tom is a former publican, who now works as an auctioneer.
More to follow…