Northern Ireland news

Vigil held in memory of west Belfast teenager who died by suicide

A vigil has been held in memory of Eamon O'Connor who died on Monday
Connla Young

Friends of a west Belfast teenager who killed himself after taking drugs have organised a vigil in his memory.

It is believed talented footballer Eamon O’Connor (18) died in the early hours of Monday morning.

Mr O’Connor is a son of Real IRA member Joe O’Connor, who is believed to have been shot dead by members of the Provisional IRA in October 2000.

The well attended vigil was held outside the home of his grandmother Phoebe Mooney in the Moyard Crescent area of west Belfast, where he is being waked.

The teenager’s mother Nichola O’Connor said that last night’s vigil was organised by her son’s friends.

“The youth have done this themselves,” she said.

“This is their stepping stone to take on the suicide problem themselves.

“We can’t say that Eamon wanted to take his life or coming off the drugs took his life.

“There’s a huge majority of suicides that are drug related.”

She said he sent a message to a friend before he died.

“He did send a message to one of his friends - ‘tell my wee brother I love him, I just want out’,” she said.

She revealed he had been organising his birthday celebrations, which would have taken place next week.

“He was at the height of his life,” she said.

“He was living life.”

The grieving mother said her son, who was 15-months-old when his father was killed, struggled with his death.

“That was one of the biggest things he struggled with, his father’s death,” she said.

She said that mourners at her son’s funeral today are being asked to wear T-shirts with a special pro-life, anti-drugs and anti-suicide message.

“I gave him life and these things (drugs and suicide) took his life away from him,” she said.

She added that “Eamon is not having a funeral Mass, he is having a ‘youth celebration Mass’.

She also said local youth clubs will be open if young people want to talk to someone after her son’s funeral.

A talented footballer, he had recently joined Belfast Celtic’s U-19 squad.

The club has cancelled all activities today.

Requiem Mass for Eamon will take place at Corpus Christi Church at 9.30am with burial afterwards in the City Cemetery.

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