By Ray O’Hanlon and Pierce O’Reilly
Attempts by various agencies to locate four Cavan construction workers reported as survivors of the World Trade Center attack were proving to be unfruitful this week.
And Sinn FTin TD Caoimhghin O Caol_in, who first expressed concern that four Cavan men might have been caught up in the tragedy, was expressing the hope that the existence and status of the men might soon be independently verified.
However, that is proving to be difficult. Inquiries by the Irish government, immigrant support centers, Catholic chaplains and members of the Cavan community in New York had failed by presstime to locate the four workers who were stated by some reports last week to be recovering in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan.
Fr. Tom Flynn, who works out of the Aisling Center in the Bronx, told the Echo that the reports about the four Cavan men had mystified and baffled him.
Reports in the Irish Voice in New York and in Ireland last week stated that the four, including three brothers, had been located injured but alive in St. Vincent’s.
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It was reported that all four were working illegally and using false names at the time of the terrorist attack.
“I’m completely mystified by the recent reports”, Fr. Flynn said.
Fr. Flynn said he had contacted all the chaplains at St. Vincent’s Hospital but that they had all failed to locate the workers.
“We did everything we could to locate the so-called four Cavan men, but they aren’t to be found”, he told the Echo.
“They checked admittance sheets, walked wards and spoke to doctors and nurses and no-one ever remembers treating any Irish workers”, Fr. Flynn said.
Two weeks ago, Cavan/Monaghan TD O’Caolain had contacted the Aisling Irish Center and Fr. Flynn to relay concern in Ireland for the workers.
O’Caolain, who subsequently urged the INS not to apply the letter of the law to any undocumented immigrants caught up in the WTC disaster, said that he had been approached by families in his constituency who had asked him to intervene.
O’Caolain asked Fr. Flynn to investigate the reports and see what he could find out. “I can’t imagine that anyone would create such a harrowing heart-breaking story”, Fr. Flynn said.
Mr. O Caolain said this week that he had acted in good faith.
“I don’t believe that I have been fooled and misled and will try to show that this is the case,” O Caolain told the Echo Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Irish Consulate is now confirming five Irish-born victims of the WTC attacks.
They are Ruth Clifford McCourt and her daughter Juliana, Fr. Mychal Judge, Patrick Currivan and Martin Coughlan, whose body was recovered and buried last week.
In addition, five more Irish-born people are still missing and the Consulate is aware of 17 missing Irish Americans who also hold Irish passports.