Stephen Termini, the tourist from New York who was seriously assaulted on Dublin’s Talbot Street in July, spoke with Ireland’s Minister for Justice Helen McEntee in a phone call on Monday, August 28.
“I know she’s very busy and she has a lot to do on a daily basis. And I just have to say that I appreciate the fact that she actually reached out to me,” Termini told The Irish Times after his phone call with McEntee on Monday.
“She took the time to call me and, you know, she asked me how I was doing... I gave her a few ideas maybe she might think about,” he said.
“I felt you know, like, she really cared... She spent a lot of time on the phone talking to me and hearing my things that I had to say and listening,” he said.
McEntee was “happy to speak this afternoon with Stephen Termini," a spokesperson for the Minister told the Irish Times.
The spokesperson said that McEntee “inquired after his health and wellbeing, and wished him well in his recovery from the injuries he sustained in the recent assault."
Termini, 57, was seriously assaulted just before 11 pm on July 19 on Talbot Street in Dublin's city center.
Gardaí have since confirmed that three male juveniles have been arrested and charged in relation to the attack.
Termini had been “saving every penny” for his trip to Ireland where he was planning to research his Irish roots, his sister told IrishCentral. The assault left Termini in a coma and at risk of losing an eye, though he has now been discharged from the hospital.
A GoFundMe was launched so Termini's sons could travel to Ireland to be by his side. The fundraising page, which is no longer accepting donations, raised more than $133k.
Termini's assault spurred conversations about safety in Ireland's capital city. More assaults, including one on a group of British tourists in Temple Bar, followed.
On July 21, a few days after the assault on Termini, Minister McEntee visited Shore Street Garda station, not far from where the assault took place, where she said she discussed a number of actions. The following week, she announced €10 million in additional funding for overtime for Dublin City Centre.
"This is to ensure that those who are already out patrolling our streets, that we can increase that visibility and have an even greater presence on our streets," McEntee said upon the announcement of the funding.
After arriving in Ireland on July 27, Termini's son Jesse Rizzuto wrote on social media that “the people of Ireland have been incredibly supportive,” but his other son Mike Rizzuto said that he and his brother do not feel safe in the capital.
On August 14, Mike told the Irish Examiner that he and his brother were "disappointed" after having "no contact" from McEntee, who he described as "out of touch."
Mike and Jesse Rizzuto say they feel “disappointed” they haven’t heard from Minister Helen McEntee over the assault on their father in Dublin City centre. Minister McEntee said she was respecting their privacy. @DjinnxArtist #Dublin pic.twitter.com/MNg2ULDszr— Alison O’Reilly (@AlisonMaryORE) August 14, 2023
Gardaí could “show a little more authority than they do” at present, Termini further told the Irish Times on Monday.
Despite the attack, Termini, whose great-grandmother was from Co Mayo, maintains goodwill toward Ireland and its people.
“If I’m standing on the street having a cigarette or I’m walking down the street somewhere, Irish people come up to me and want to shake my hand and [say] they feel sorry for what happened to me,” he told the Irish Times.
He earlier told Virgin Media News that he was not going to let the assault stop his plans.
"I'm here to find my great-grandmother's land or whatever she has here," Termini, who is set to visit Co Donegal for some fishing next week, said.
"I'm trying to become an Irish citizen. I want to be given a passport and put on a register and be a citizen here, go to work, pay taxes and not be bothered for the rest of my life, play a little music and you know, that's it.
"That's what I want. I want to be a citizen."
#WATCH Virgin Media News has spoken to an American tourist who was attacked in Dublin city centre last monthAugust 25, 2023