Northern Ireland news

Widow tells Michael McGibbon's children: ‘Daddy will give us strength'

Michael McGibbon's wife Joanne and her children stand over her husband's Michael's coffin t his funeral yesterday
Connla Young

MICHAEL McGibbon’s grieving wife told their children that “Daddy will give us strength” during his funeral in north Belfast yesterday.

The father-of-four died last Friday after being shot in the leg during a paramilitary attack in Ardoyne which was later claimed by the ‘IRA’.

Several hundred people walked behind the coffin from Mr McGibbon’s Crumlin Road home for Requiem Mass at nearby Holy Cross Church, where hundreds more mourners were waiting inside.

The cortege was led by his wife Joanne and the couple’s children Seana, Shea, Michaela and Corry-Leigh, who was carried in her mother’s arms.

Floral tributes spelling out the words Daddy, brother, son and husband adorned the hearse as it sat outside the church where Mr McGibbon was baptised in 1983.

Inside, Fr Eugene McCarthy said the “vast majority” of people in Ardoyne were with the family of the dead man.

Co-celebrants included Ardoyne priest Fr Gary Donegan, who has spoken out about Mr McGibbon’s killing, Fr Gareth Thomas and Fr Adrian Eastwood.

Several politicians were also present including former SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness and the SDLP's Nichola Mallon and Sinn Fein's Carál Ní Chuilín.

Mr McGibbon was shot three times in the leg in an alleyway at Butler Place where Joanne, a nurse, fought in vain to save him.

Fr McCarthy said Mr McGibbon had “gone to God long before his time”.

“Michael by his own admission wasn’t perfect, like the rest of us he had his struggles in life, but let's put it very clearly: he did not deserve to die in the manner it would happen to him,” he said.

“The death of Michael McGibbon marks another block on the road to lasting peace and reconciliation.

“Thank God for the peace that we have, but remember it’s very fragile and needs to be nurtured.”

The priest said he prayed that those who shot the Ardoyne man will abandon their campaign.

“I pray that in the light of all that has happened to Michael that people will stand together in solidarity at this time,” he said.

“And that those who still believe in violence and sowing mayhem in our midst will see the error of their ways and find a new path in life and remember the words of the second reading today ‘We shall all have to stand before the judgement seat’."

Fr McCarthy told the congregation that the dead man’s children were his “pride and joy”.

“He was very supportive of their education and always anxious to known how they were progressing in their studies and how they were behaving and always willing to help out at the school,” he said.

“Michael came across as a good family man and a very good provider for all.

“He thought of others and put others before himself.”

Mourners heard that Mr McGibbon worked as a chef in early life before becoming a taxi driver.

He attended Holy Cross Boys School, where his son Shea is now a pupil, and the school choir sang several hymns during yesterday’s Mass.

Fr McCarthy also spoke of his love of sport and said he was a “dyed in the wool” Leeds supporter.

As mourners left the church pupils from St Dominic’s Grammar School, where his daughter Seana attended, formed a guard of honour.

Outside the church his grieving wife embraced her children and was heard to say, “Daddy will give us strength, no matter where”.

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