Priest urges young people to ‘say no' to drug pushers at funeral of west Belfast victim Aaron Strong
A PRIEST has urged young people to say no to drugs at the funeral of a west Belfast teenager who died after taking a cocktail of prescription medication and alcohol.
Fr Aidan Denny was speaking as hundreds of mourners gathered on Tuesday at Corpus Christi Church in Ballymurphy for Requiem Mass for Aaron Strong.
The teenager, who would have celebrated his 19th birthday on Monday, died last week after taking drugs his mother believes were purchased from dealers who are buying prescription medicine online.
Friends and family of the popular apprentice joiner wore t-shirts bearing his picture and carried yellow roses as they walked behind the cortège.
The teenager's twin brother Ryan was comforted by family members as was his mother Annmarie, who has publicly appealed for more to be done to tackle the drug problem in west Belfast.
Aaron was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital after collapsing and spent several days on life support before dying last Wednesday with his family at his bedside.
Posting on her Facebook page, the teenager's mother said his birthday was a "sad day for our whole family as Aaron had his wee life took from him".
"I wouldn't want another family to go through what we are were going through"
"I will never see your beautiful wee face again all thanks to the horrible dirty scum that sold you them tabs (tablets)".
Fr Aidan Denny told mourners that Aaron was a talented young man with a love of motorbikes and was loved by all who knew him.
Urging young people to stay away from drugs, he said: “Life doesn’t go on forever.
"If young people don’t listen to the advice of older people, then listen to Aaron – say no to the pushers. Do it out of love and respect for Aaron.
"Learn from Aaron, who is speaking to us today."
In a direct message to the drug dealers, the parish priest also said it was a "dreadful thing you've done pushing drugs".