EXCLUSIVE: Friends reveal the Kennedys were trying to find a place to help treat Saoirse’s depression just months before her ‘drug overdose’ and insist she was never into drinking or partying as relatives gather at the Cape Cod compound
- Saoirse Roisin Kennedy Hill died aged 22 from a suspected drug overdose at the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod just after 2.30pm Thursday
- Her grandmother Ethel and mother Courtney looked anguished as they were seen riding on a golf cart on Friday afternoon, with family matriarch Ethel taking some of her grandchildren out sailing, it is understood
- A close friend of the Kennedys, Luciana Klosterman, told DailyMail.com that the family were trying to find a place that would help treat Saoirse’s depression just months before her death
- She said she had talked to Courtney ‘Maybe two or three months ago… She was in California. She was trying to find a place for Saoirse there, to help with her depression’
- Another source close to the family said they were stunned as Saoirse had not been a partier
- ‘There’s never been any sign to the family that Saoirse was drinking or taking drugs. She wasn’t a partier or anything,’ the source said
- Emergency responders were called to the Kennedy family compound on Thursday afternoon in Hyannis Port
- Officials claimed the cause of death will be determined by a toxicology report as an investigation continues
- Saoirse was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, where she was pronounced dead of apparent cardiac arrest
- Saoirse is the daughter of Courtney Kennedy and Paul Michael Hill, and the granddaughter of the late Robert F Kennedy and his wife Ethel
A close friend of the Kennedys spoke to DailyMail.com about her devastation over the death of the ‘magnificent and sparkling’ Saoirse Kennedy Hill.
Luciana Klosterman, who has known the political dynasty for 40 years, said: ‘Saoirse was a beautiful girl and full of life. She was very, very close with her mother. She was different from the others – she was more beautiful, more spiritual, with more sparkle.
‘Courtney was the one that I was the closest to. She’s very generous in every sense, very sensitive. I cannot imagine how they will cope with the death of that very beautiful girl.’
Klosterman was introduced to the Kennedys by her late husband, Don Klosterman, a prominent pro-football executive, who was good friends with Ethel Kennedy.
‘When I married Don, I met the rest of the Kennedy family and we spent many summers at the Cape,’ she said.
Ms Klosterman, who lives in New York, said that she last saw Courtney Kennedy at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Ripple of Hope awards ceremony in November.
Saoirse Kennedy Hill (left) died of a possible drug overdose at the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod on Thursday. Luciana Klosterman (right) who has known the political dynasty for 40 years, said she’d spoken to Courtney Kennedy Hill about her daughter Saoirse last Spring
Ethel Kennedy, (pictured wearing a pink shirt), and her daughter Courtney Kennedy Hill, (pictured beside her), were seen for the first time on Friday following the tragic death of Courtney’s daughter Saoirse, 22, from a suspected drug overdose. On the back of the golf buggy they were supported by Kerry Townsend Meltzer, the youngest daughter of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Courtney Kennedy Hill put a protective arm over her mother Ethel Kennedy as they were driven in a golf cart on the Kennedy compound
‘She was in a good mood and I was so happy to see her happy. She was here with a friend from Ireland and we spent some time together,’ Klosterman said.
‘Maybe two or three months ago, I talked to her over the phone. She was in California. She was trying to find a place for Saoirse there, to help with her depression.’
She added: ‘Aside from being a Kennedy, the mother and the daughter are two completely magnificent people.’
Another source close to the family said they were stunned by the apparent overdose as Saoirse had not been a partier.
‘There’s never been any sign to the family that Saoirse was drinking or taking drugs. She wasn’t a partier or anything,’ the source told Page Six.
However they did concede she had a ‘very difficult’ upbringing and had an ‘unstable childhood’ until her parents, Courtney and Paul Hill separated. “This girl is very sweet and a very shy girl who has struggled a lot with depression since her early teens,’ they added.
The Kennedy clan rallied around each other on Friday as family members gathered at their historic Cape Cod compound
Mariah Cuomo, the daughter of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and cousin of Saoirse shared memories of her relative
Mariah wrote a sweet tribute to her cousin Saoirse who she described as a ‘warm embrace’
Pictured: Tributes from a close friend of Saoirse Kennedy Hill, Emily Abrams, paid tribute to the girl on Instagram
Tributes from her cousin Michaela Kennedy Cuomo, the daughter of Kerry Kennedy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Michaela said that anyone whose path crossed with Saoirse would feel her ‘infectious charisma’
Saoirse’s grief-stricken mother Courtney, accompanied by her mother, Ethel, 91, were spotted at the family compound in Hyannis Port following the tragic death. The pair, who both appeared anguished, were seen on a golf cart in Massachusetts on Friday, as tributes to Saoirse, 22, continued to pour in.
They were also accompanied by Kerry Townsend Meltzer, whose mother Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is Courtney’s oldest sister. Meltzer was Saoirse’s cousin.
On Thursday, paramedics responded to a suspected overdose just after 2.30 pm at the home where Ethel Kennedy lives at 28 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port.
Saoirse was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to local media.
It is understood that Ethel, the matriarch of the family, decided to take some of her grandchildren and other family members out sailing on a boat called the Glide for an hour on Friday afternoon, before returning to the dock at around 2.30pm.
Saoirse was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to local media. She is pictured in a photo from her Twitter account
Courtney shared many sweet photos of herself with her daughter Saoirse on her social media accounts
Photos of Saoirse Kennedy Hill circa 2015 from the page of her mother, Courtney Kennedy. Saoirse with Robert Kennedy Jr. and his son Aidan
Saoirse Kennedy Hill is pictured, from around 2015, with family friend Joanne Metcalf, left, and with father Paul Hill, right
Saoirse with her mother, Courtney Kennedy, during a trip out on a boat
Robert F Kennedy Jr paid a moving tribute to his niece Saoirse Kennedy Hill, saying the ‘gaping hope she leaves in our lives is too large to ever heal’ following her suspected death of a drug overdose on Thursday. Saoirse is seen (back row third from right) celebrating her grandmother Ethel’s birthday last year surrounded by family members
Saoirse’s uncle Robert F Kennedy Jr, son of the late presidential candidate and his wife Ethel, shared an image with his beloved niece and described her as ‘fierce and daring’ as the family mourn her tragic loss
Maria Shriver posts on August 2, 2019 in memory of Saoirse Kennedy Hill, who suffered from depression and passed away at the Kennedy compound at the age of 22
She then made her way back to the family home accompanied by Courtney, who also wore sunglasses and a hat.
Meanwhile, Saoirse’s uncle brother Robert F Kennedy Jr described his niece as ‘fierce and daring,’ saying the ‘gaping hole she leaves in our lives is too large to ever heal.’
Kennedy Jr, 65, who is a brother of Saoirse’s mother Courtney Kennedy Hill, shared a heartrending post on Instagram along with a series of images showing his 22-year-old niece in happier times.
The environmentalist said on Friday: ‘We’ve lost our daughter and our children, their sister.
‘Saoirse was fierce, both in her love for her family and yearning for justice. A fearless adventurer, she inspired curiosity and daring in her friends.’
Tragic Saoirse Kennedy Hill was the victim of an abduction attempt by two males when she was just 10
Saoirse Kennedy Hill was almost abducted from outside the family’s Cape Cod compound at age 10, according to a 2007 report
Robert F Kennedy’s granddaughter was coming home from a tennis game in Hyannis Port when two men in a van approached her, according to Barnstable police.
‘Two white males, approximately 50 years old according to the witness, were sitting in a white GMC van.
‘As the girl walked by the van, the driver asked her if she needed a ride. The young girl responded, ‘no,’ and just did not feel right about the situation and ran home,’ Sgt. Mark Mellyn told WCBV at the time.
Robert F. Kennedy and his Ethel had called police to thank them for their help in investigating the case.
‘But her greatest gift was to find humor in everything and to give us all the gift of her laughter – and our own. The gaping hole that she leaves in our family is too large to ever heal.’
Saoirse was daughter to one of the 11 children of the late presidential candidate Robert Kennedy and his widow Ethel, 91, an environmental and human rights activist.
She was one of the couple’s 35 grandchildren, with some of them paying tribute to her on social media on Friday.
The Boston College Student, who was due to graduate in 2020, wrote movingly about her struggle with depression and mental illness in a candid article for her school paper in 2016.
She also described how she attempted to take her own life two weeks before her junior year began at the prestigious preparatory school, Deerfield Academy, claiming she ‘totally lost it after someone I knew and loved broke serious sexual boundaries with me.’
In the essay she penned, Saoirse did not go into further detail about the individual involved in the alleged assault or state whether she reported it to authorities.
But it seemed clear from her writing that the encounter had an impact on her emotionally.
Her grandmother Ethel, who lives at the home where the alleged overdose occurred, was quoted on Thursday night as saying: ‘The world is a little less beautiful today. She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit.
‘Saoirse was passionately moved by the causes of human rights and women’s empowerment and found great joy in volunteer work, working alongside indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico. We will love her and miss her forever.’
The family statement was issued to Associated Press by Brian Wright O’Connor, a spokesman for Saoirse Kennedy-Hill’s uncle, former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II.
Saoirse’s father is Paul Michael Hill, one of four people falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs. Hill and Courtney Kennedy married in 1993 and welcomed their only daughter in 1997.
RFK shared a number of images of Saoirse, including his wife, actress Cheryl Hines, helping her move into her Boston College dorm. She studied communications there and was due to graduate next year
The Boston College student, who was due to graduate next year, described how depression was her ‘unwanted friend’ and would strike in bouts that ‘would come and go.’ She previously wrote in 2016 about a suicide attempt
Paramedics responded to a suspected overdose just after 2.30 pm and found the patient in cardiac arrest at the home where Ethel Kennedy lived at 28 Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port. She is pictured here with several of her cousins on a sailboat
In a series of carefree images, Saoirse is seen leaping from a jetty with her cousin Michaela Cuomo, 21, who is the daughter of Kerry Kennedy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
The statement added that Saoirse cared deeply about friends and family, ‘especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.’
There were emotional scenes at the sprawling Kennedy compound on Friday morning, where family members were seen hugging and embracing each other as they came to terms with the latest tragedy to befall the Kennedy family.
Law enforcement officials were also seen at the compound speaking with family members as the investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death continues.
Just days before her death, the Boston College student had spent time with her family at their famed Massachusetts estate.
In an Instagram photo captured by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the 22-year-old was seen enjoying the sunny day as she jumped into the water.
Saoirse, 22, was the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill — one of the 11 children of the late presidential candidate and the environmental and human rights activist Ethel Kennedy. They are pictured together above at an event in The White House several years ago, thought to be when Pope Francis made his official visit to the U.S. in 2015
Saoirse was the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s fifth child, Courtney, and Paul Michael Hill, who was one of four falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs. She is pictured with her uncle Robert Kennedy Jr and other family members at a Kenny Chesney concert in Foxboro in 2018
There were emotional scenes at the Kennedy compound on Friday morning, where family members were seen hugging and embracing each other as they came to terms with the latest tragedy to befall the Kennedy family
There were scenes of devastation at the sprawling Kennedy compound in Cape Cod amid news of the latest family tragedy
Law enforcement were seen speaking with relatives of Saoirse Kennedy-Hill as the investigation into her death continues
Saoirse’s aunt Kerry Kennedy posted a tribute to her niece on Instagram, sharing the official family statement on her death, along with several images of the 22-year-old.
One of Hill’s relatives, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who is now an advocate for substance abuse and mental health treatment, tweeted a tribute to her Friday.
‘Saoirse will always remain in our hearts. She is loved and will be deeply missed,’ he wrote.
Further tributes poured in for the young student on Friday, including one from her cousin, Maria Shriver, the daughter of Eunice Kennedy, who wrote on Twitter: ‘Life is fragile and heartbreaking. It turns upside down in a minute. Love your children, hold them tight. Love your family, hold them close.
A flag flies at half-mast at the Kennedy compound on Friday in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Relatives and sympathizers were seen arriving at the iconic property throughout the day as they mourned the loss of 22-year-old Saoirse
Police vehicles and a large media presence could be seen at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis, Massachusetts on Friday
Multiple generations of the Kennedy family have lived at the compound, which famously served as President John F. Kennedy’s summer White House. The compound has around six homes on Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port
In later years extended members of the Kennedy family have gathered there for various family events including one on July 4
Saoirse’s second cousin, Katherine Schwarzenegger, the daughter of Maria Shriver, looked anguished as she left gym in Los Angeles on Friday morning as more news of the young woman’s death began to emerge
‘Love your friends, keep them near. Be gentle with others, as so many are fragile and struggling. #ivebeenthinking.’
However, some family members did not want to comment on the tragedy. When approached by DailyMail.com, her uncle, Douglas Kennedy, said: ‘I appreciate your call but I really have no comment.’
Her passing is being investigated by Barnstable police and State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney’s office.
Tara Miltimore, Cape & Islands Assistant District Attorney, said the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has accepted jurisdiction of the case.
In a statement she said: ‘An autopsy performed today has revealed no trauma inconsistent with lifesaving measures. The cause and manner of death are pending the toxicology report.
‘The matter remains under investigation by Barnstable Police and State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office.’
‘Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,’ the Kennedy family said in a statement. ‘Her life was filled with hope, promise and love’
Saoirse is seen with her mother Courtney Kennedy Hill at the family compound in 2016. She was Courtney’s only child
Saoirse is seen on the family’s boat in an Instagram photo posted by her uncle Robert F Kennedy Jr over the weekend
Saoirse spent part of her childhood in Ireland, and often said she was proud of her Irish heritage. Her father, Paul Hill, is one of the Guildford Four, who were falsely accused of involvement in Irish Republican Army bombing. They are pictured together above
Saoirse’s father is Paul Hill, an Irishman who was one of the Guildford Four, a group of men wrongly convicted of bombings carried out by the IRA in 1974. Hill and Courtney Kennedy (above together) married in 1993 and welcomed their only daughter in 1997
Paramedics responding to a call of a suspected overdose just after 2.30pm Thursday arrived at the scene (pictured) and found the patient in cardiac arrest
‘While in high school, Kennedy Hill wrote for a student newspaper about her struggles with depression and mental illness.
The Times reported that she marched last year as part of a nationwide protests against gun violence.
In an Instagram post, one of Saoirse’s best friends Emily Abrams claimed her ‘smile and laughter lit up a room.’
She said: ‘She loved and cared about everything with such a fiery passion that you could only admire while simultaneously feeling bad for whoever was on the opposing side.
‘I’m shattered with the loss of one of my best friends, but I’m grateful I got to see her face and talk to her earlier this week. I once was told a person really dies twice.
‘First when their body is gone, and the second time is when the last memory of them fades. I promise no one will ever forget their memories with you Seersh. I love you today, tomorrow, and forever after that.’
She was described as a ‘gifted student’ in the Class of 2020 at Boston College where she studied Communications in the Morrissey College of Arts and Science, the school said in a statement.
‘We extend our condolences to her family on this tragic loss,’ a Boston College official said. Unsurprisingly given her family history, she also served as vice president of the College Democrats.
She was expected to graduate next year and previously attended the private preparatory school Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.
The Kennedy Compound consists of multiple homes across six acres of waterfront property along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port
Ethel Kennedy is pictured with his wife Ethel when he was a newly elected Senator at La Guardia Airport in November 1964
Courtney Kennedy Hill is pictured in a loving embrace with her only daughter Saoirse in a recent Facebook image
While she was attending boarding school at Deerfield Academy in 2016, Saoirse penned an article for the student paper about her struggles with depression and mental illness.
She alluded to being sexually assaulted by an unidentified individual by a friend during her junior year and attempted to take her own life.
Saoirse underwent treatment for depression before returning to school. In the article, which she penned during her senior year, she described feeling unsettled and lonely because few people on campus knew about her illness.
In the essay she wrote: ‘My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life,’ Saoirse wrote. ‘Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest.
‘Though the teen admitted that her depression episodes ‘would come and go,’ she said it particularly affected her during her sophomore year at the private Massachusetts prep school.
‘I began isolating myself in my room, pulling away from my relationships, and giving up on schoolwork,’ Saoirse recalled.
KENNEDY FAMILY STATEMENT ON SAOIRSE’S DEATH
‘Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise and love. She cared deeply about her friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel, who said, ‘The world is a little less beautiful today.
‘She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit. Saoirse was passionately moved by the causes of human rights and women’s empowerment and found great joy in volunteer work, working alongside indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico. We will love her and miss her forever.’
‘During the last few weeks of spring term, my sadness surrounded me constantly.’ But that summer after my sophomore year, my friend depression rarely came around anymore, and I was thankful for her absence,’ she added.
After initially overcoming this battle with depression, Saoirse shared that she attempted suicide.
‘My sense of well-being was already compromised, and I totally lost it after someone I knew and loved broke serious sexual boundaries with me,’ she wrote.
‘I did the worst thing a victim can do, and I pretended it hadn’t happened. This all became too much, and I attempted to take my own life.’
She did not go into further detail about the person who broke her ‘sexual boundaries’ or state whether she reported any alleged assault.
But it seemed clear from her writing that the encounter had a serious impact on her emotionally, as she wrote about the stigma surrounding mental health and how many people feel uncomfortable talking about their well-being.
The column also focused on her return to school for her senior year after she went on medical leave to seek treatment.
She appeared to feel disappointed over the fact federal privacy law seemed to prevent her teachers and advisers from knowing what she was experiencing, and claimed that the school could have been better equipped to talk about mental illness.
Saoirse later went on to enroll at Boston College, where she was a communication major and vice president of the College Democrats.
Marcus Breen, a professor of communication at Boston College, said Kennedy Hill was an engaging student in a class he taught on social media and social justice.
In an email to The New York Times he wrote: ‘In classes she was often the first student to offer an opinion on readings that demanded clear critique about the challenges of contemporary society,’ he said in an email.
Professor Breen claimed that Saoirse once asked him to speak to her out after a class conversation on feminism and rape culture, asking him whether the issues were appropriate for the classroom given that some students may have been survivors of sexual assault.
Friends and family of Saoirse Kennedy shared several images on social media, painting the picture of a young woman who loved life and had a number of interests
Saoirse is pictured with friends and seemed to be enjoying her time in Boston College where she studied communications
In an Instagram post , one of Saoirse’s best friends Emily Abrams claimed her ‘smile and laughter lit up a room’
A picture shows Robert F Kennedy Jr sailing with family members including his wife Cheryl in Massachusetts
Saoirse Kennedy Hill,(right), poses for a family group photo with her mother Courtney Kennedy Hill, left, after a ceremony for naming the Robert Kennedy Navy Ship at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
‘It was an expression of her concern for others,’ Professor Breen told The New York Times. ‘She will be missed on campus and in class.’
Hill and Courtney Kennedy married in 1993 and welcomed their only daughter – whose name means ‘freedom’ in Irish – in 1997. They lived in Ireland from 2002 until 2006, the year they legally separated.
Saoirse spent part of her childhood in Ireland, and often spoke of how proud she was of her Irish heritage and her Gaelic given name meaning freedom.
The overdose incident took place at 28 Marchant Avenue, a home belonging to Ethel Kennedy, the 91-year-old widow of late US Senator Robert F Kennedy.
Despite the tragedies that befell two of their most notable members, the Kennedy family remains active in politics.
Congressman Joe Kennedy III, a grandson of RFK, entered the House of Representatives in 2013. The Kennedy Compound consists of multiple homes across six acres of waterfront property along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port.
It has been home to multiple members of the political powerhouse Kennedy clan for several decades. Joseph and Rose Kennedy, parents to John, Robert and Edward, bought the first home at 50 Marchant Ave in 1928.
Ted Kennedy added the second home at 28 Marchant Ave in 1955 and sold it to his brother Robert in 1961. It is worth an estimated $2.3 million.
Hill also helped found a group at the school called Deerfield Students Against Sexual Assault, according to a November 2016 story in the paper, and she attended a March for Our Lives gun violence prevention rally in Barnstable in March 2018, The Barnstable Patriot newspaper reported at the time.
Kennedy Hill’s death is the latest tragedy suffered by the Kennedy family, which is arguably the nation’s most famous and storied political dynasties.
In 1963, then-President John F Kennedy was assassinated. JFK’s brother, presidential candidate and US Senator Robert F Kennedy was killed by an assassin five years later in 1968.
Another brother, Joseph P Kennedy Jr was killed in World War II, and their sister Kathleen Cavendish died in a plane crash in 1948.
The president’s son, John F Kennedy Jr, was killed in a plane crash in 1999 off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, along with his wife and sister-in-law.
Robert F and Ethel Kennedy’s son David Anthony died of an overdose at age 28 in 1984. Their other son, Michael Kennedy, died aged 39 in a skiing accident in 1997.
Saoirse Kennedy is pictured aged 12 greeting people waiting in a three hour line to pay their respects to Senator Edward M. Kennedy at a memorial following his death at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston in August 27, 2009
Saoirse and Courtney Kennedy are seen outside the White House in 2015 during Pope Francis’ official visit to The White House
Saorsie is pictured at the age of 18 before her high school prom in May 2016, looking stunning in a long red dress
The 22-year-old is seen (third row, fifth from the right) at the Kennedy compound with family
The incident reportedly took place at 28 Marchant Avenue, a home belonging to Ethel Kennedy
A Barnstable Police cruiser sat at the top of Marchant Avenue as police investigated the death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill
People walked down the dock at the Hyannis Port Yacht Club by the Kennedy Compound as police began their investigations Thursday
The lights were on at the Hyannis Port Yacht Club by the Kennedy Compound where police were investigating the death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill Thursday
Edward ‘Ted’ Kennedy was involved in an accident in Martha’s Vineyard in 1969 that left a young woman dead.
The US senator drove off a bridge on the tiny island of Chappaquiddick. He got out of the water but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not.
Ted pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury.
Kopechne was a respected political operative who had worked on the presidential campaign of Robert F Kennedy.
Saoirse’s father Paul Hill and the three other members of the Guildford Four served 14 years of a life sentence for the attack which killed five people and injured 65, before their convictions were overturned in 1989.
The high-profile deadly attack in Guildford – along with ones in Woolwich and Birmingham – in 1974 became better known for the huge miscarriages of justices they led to in the aftermath, with the public demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice.
Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson were jailed in 1975 for the attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford which killed four soldiers and a civilian and injured scores more. Hill and Armstrong were also jailed for the Woolwich bombing in which two people died.
In a separate trial, The Birmingham Six – Paddy Joe Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power and Johnny Walker – were convicted for carrying out the Midlands bombings.
Later Giuseppe, and members of the Maguire family – who became known as the Maguire Seven – were arrested and jailed for possessing and supplying the IRA with the explosives for the bombs.
But all those involved protested their innocence and after years of campaigning their convictions were overturned.
In October 1989 the Court of Appeal quashed the sentences of the Guildford Four after they had served 14 years behind bars, amid doubts raised about the police evidence against them.
An investigation into the case by Avon and Somerset Police found serious flaws in the way Surrey Police handled the case.
In July 2000 the Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first senior politician to apologize to the Guildford Four.
In a letter sent to Paul Hill’s wife, Courtney Kennedy, he wrote: ‘There were miscarriages of justice in your husband’s case, and the cases of those convicted with him. I am very sorry indeed that this should have happened.’
Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, and Saoirse’s aunt posted several pictures of her niece on Instagram
‘Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,’ Kerry wrote in one touching tribute
She also shared pictures of Saoirse from her younger years, such as this picture with an elaborate headress
Kerry Kennedy’s Instagram posts paint a picture of a happy-go-lucky girl in the prime of her life
The family are pictured together on a previous trip to Ireland, with Saoirse, her mom Courtney Kennedy and father Paul Hill
The acclaimed 1993 film In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day Lewis, was based on the Guildford Four.
In 1990, a year after his release, Mr Hill was invited alongside Gerry Conlon to testify before a congressional hearing on human rights.
It was there that he met Ethel Kennedy, the mother of his future wife, Courtney. Kennedy was the widow of Robert ‘Bobby’ Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 while running as the Democrats’ candidate to be President.
His brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been shot dead just five years earlier.
Kennedy was impressed by Mr Hill and later recalled ‘What he said, and how he said it, was very powerful.’
She quickly introduced herself and invited him to her family’s New York home to meet Courtney.
Courtney, a former human rights activist and representative for a UN Aids foundation, said of their meeting in her apartment: ‘He was so charming and we soon realized we had the same humor to face adversity.’
In a 2002 interview with the Scottish Herald, Courtney said that, despite the social gulf between the then couple, there were a ‘lot of similarities’ which made them feel as though they had something in common.
The Kennedy family is no stranger to tragedy, having lost several members under unusual circumstances over the years. In 1963, then-President John F Kennedy was assassinated. JFK’s brother, presidential candidate and US Senator Robert F Kennedy was killed by an assassin five years later in 1968. The brothers are pictured together in 1963
The Kennedy Compound consists of multiple homes across six acres of waterfront property along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port
The Kennedy clan is seen celebrating the Fourth of July at the compound earlier this month
Saoirse’s father Paul Hill and the three other members of the Guildford Four served 14 years of a life sentence for the attack which killed five people and injured 65, before their convictions were overturned in 1989. Hill is seen arriving at appeals court that year with Courtney Kennedy (center) and her mother Ethel (right)
Saoirse is seen placing a white rose at the Eternal Flame, President John F Kennedy’s gravesite, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in 2000
‘He lost an enormous portion of his life and I lost my father and that took away something profound from me,’ she said.
Their two-month honeymoon was spent in Ireland, and for Mr Hill’s 39th birthday, an all-night party was thrown in which 40 members of the Kennedy family turned up.
Courtney, who was herself one of 11 children of Robert and Ethel, said at the time: ‘It was amazing, they all looked like Kennedy’s’.
She went on to accompany him on his speaking engagements and the couple had their daughter, Saoirse Roisin Kennedy-Hill, in 1997. Courtney had divorced in 1990 after a ten-year marriage to Robert Ruhe.
In the interview, Courtney also revealed her own struggle with depression in her early life, which began following the assassination of her father.
She revealed: ‘I suffered, and do suffer, from depression. It’s very difficult for Paul to deal with because he went through that in prison and was able to deal with it and pull himself out, whereas I just couldn’t pull myself out. It was just my make-up. It happens to all kinds of people.” She pauses, breaking eye contact.
‘I don’t think it was anything to do with my background because I’ve got all kinds of brothers and sisters who don’t have it.’
She claimed her childhood was spent at the Kennedy home in suburban Virginia, just outside Washington.
She later moved to Boston, became a nursery teacher in California before touring Europe with her sister Kerry.
She also said: ‘My difficulty was being able to say ‘I’m a Kennedy and I’m suffering from depression. I had it when I was a teenager and ten years later, and I had it after my brother David died. I’ve had it the last five years off and on.’
- If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.
- For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local branch. See www.samaritans.org for details.
- For confidential support in Australia LIFELINE: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Saoirse Roisin Kennedy-Hill opens up about her struggles with depression in 2016
Saoirse Roisin Kennedy-Hill penned the article below for Deerfield Academy’s The Deerfield Scroll in February 2016 when she was a senior at the prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts.
Mental Illness at Deerfield
When you were little, did you ever have friends your mom made you hang out with, even though you didn’t want to? Then those friends kept showing up, and you were confused and sick of them. Soon enough, those friends were around so much that you got used to them. Finally, those friends were always with you and never left, and you almost began to enjoy having them around.
Until last year, this was my relationship with my mental illness.
My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life. Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest. These bouts would come and go, but they did not outwardly affect me until I was a new sophomore at Deerfield.
We all know that some people find winter at Deerfield lonely, dark, and long. I began isolating myself in my room, pulling away from my relationships, and giving up on schoolwork. During the last few weeks of spring term, my sadness surrounded me constantly. But that summer after my sophomore year, my friend depression rarely came around anymore, and I was thankful for her absence.
Two weeks before my junior year began, however, my friend came back and planned to stay. My sense of well-being was already compromised, and I totally lost it after someone I knew and loved broke serious sexual boundaries with me. I did the worst thing a victim can do, and I pretended it hadn’t happened. This all became too much, and I attempted to take my own life.
I returned to school for the fall of my junior year, but I realized that I could not handle the stresses Deerfield presented. I went to treatment for my depression and returned to the valley for my senior year.
Coming back from medical leave was definitely not what I expected. I saw a stark contrast between my treatment facility—a place full of aware and accepting people—and my experience at Deerfield. Although my friends were extremely supportive, they seemed to be the only ones who knew what had been going on in my life for the past year.
Dr. Josh Relin, Director of Counseling at Deerfield, has explained to me that federal laws designed to protect patient privacy constrain what information can be shared in workplaces and schools. “There is a strong firewall between what happens in the Health Center and the other adults in the community due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act),” he said. “This law determines how health information can and cannot be shared.”
HIPAA was designed to protect patient privacy, yet in my experience, it left me feeling very much alone.
I didn’t care that students thought that I had left because of an eating disorder, or that I had been bullied, but it concerned me that my teachers and advisors didn’t know what I had been going through. Even though it was helpful for me to discuss my struggles with all of those important people in my life, it was still uncomfortable, and it was hard for me to take the initiative. In the future, I hope that the Health Center reaches out to students before they return from medical leave in order to discuss how the school can make their adjustment back to Deerfield less difficult. If they had reached out to me, I would have let them know that I wanted my circumstances shared with my teachers and advisors before I returned to campus; this would have made my transition back a lot easier.
Deerfield is one of the top educational institutions in the country, yet no one seems to know how to talk about mental illness. People talk about cancer freely; why is it so difficult to discuss the effects of depression, bi-polar, anxiety, or schizophrenic disorders? Just because the illness may not be outwardly visible doesn’t mean the person suffering from it isn’t struggling. I have experienced a lot of stigma surrounding mental health on Deerfield’s campus. As students, we have the power to end that immediately. Stigma places blame on the person suffering from the illness and makes them ashamed to talk openly about what they’re going through.
Teachers and students on our campus can do their best to be more aware when discussing mental health issues. If someone says they’re feeling depressed, a good way to respond would be, “What are some other things you’re feeling? What do you think has brought this on?” If you don’t feel comfortable saying either of those, say, “I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I am here for support.” Too often, people speak before they think, and that can damage the trust in a relationship. If someone confides in you, try not to say, “It’s all in your mind,” or “lighten up,” or, my personal favorite, “Happiness is a choice.” No, it’s really not. When I’m in a really bad place, I do my best to surround myself with positive people and upbeat music, but too often it feels as if I’m drowning in my own thoughts, while everyone else seems to be breathing comfortably.
Many people are suffering, but because many people feel uncomfortable talking about it, no one is aware of the sufferers. This leaves people feeling even more alone. Since I spoke about this issue at school meeting, I have had countless people approach me, telling me that they, too, are struggling and would love to be more open about it. I am calling all members of the Deerfield community to come forward and talk freely about mental health issues. We are all either struggling or know someone who is battling an illness; let’s come together to make our community more inclusive and comfortable.
Read the article on The Deerfield Scroll website here.
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