Funeral of north Belfast pensioner (79) who died while waiting for an ambulance for 10 hours

 The funeral of Jimmy Cassidy. Picture by Hugh Russell

A PENSIONER who died alone in his north Belfast home while an ambulance took 10 hours to reach him was today described as "quiet" and "gentle" as mourners gathered for his funeral.

Requiem Mass for Jimmy Cassidy took place at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in north Belfast and those gathered heard how he had at times lived a life that "impacted on other people's lives in his quiet, gentle way".

The 79-year-old, who was a widower, was found dead at his home at Brookvale Fold early on Sunday.

His friend, Michael O'Reilly, who would regularly visit him and bring groceries, had found him collapsed in his home the previous evening at around 7pm and called an ambulance.

When an ambulance failed to show, Mr O'Reilly called again at 9pm.

Mr O'Reilly stayed with the pensioner until 11.15pm however when paramedics finally arrived at 5am, they found the pensioner dead in the bathroom of his home.

A coroner found that Mr Cassidy, who at one time ran a shop on Dawson Street in the New Lodge and a supermarket in nearby Tigers Bay, died of a heart attack.

Mr O’Reilly has now raised questions as to why it took an ambulance 10 hours to reach his friend.

The ambulance service said it was "aware of the concerns" surrounding the call for medical assistance and has begun "an internal investigation into the circumstances pertaining at the time".

Fr Darach Mac Giolla Catháin told mourners that Mr Cassidy was a "well read" man, who had "studied religion".

The parish priest said Mr Cassidy and his wife, Maisie, who passed away 10 years ago, would be remembered for "the way they looked after customers" in their shop at Dawson Street.

"The life that he lived, quiet and gentle, other times he impacted other people's lives in his quiet, gentle way," he said.

SDLP assembly member Nichola Mallon, who attended the funeral, has written to the CEO of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service regarding Mr Cassidy's 10-hour wait.

Ms Mallon has asked for answers regarding the times the emergency calls were logged, why it took so long for an ambulance to arrive and if the pensioner's life could have been saved, had the ambulance attended earlier.

"There are urgent questions which need to be answered," she said.

"I have been contacted by friends of Mr Cassidy. They are deeply distressed and have asked that I pursue this. I have given them my word that I will".

Mr Cassidy was laid to rest in Carnmoney Cemetery following Requiem Mass.

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