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Irish News chairman Jim Fitzpatrick enjoyed a 'long and well lived life' mourners told

Connla Young

MOURNERS at the funeral yesterday of Irish News chairman Jim Fitzpatrick heard how he enjoyed a "long and well lived life".

Figures from the world of politics, business and journalism were among those who joined Mr Fitzpatrick's family at St Brigid's Church in south Belfast for Requiem Mass.

The father-of-eight died after a short illness last Saturday aged 92.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was represented by his aide de camp, Commandant Claire Mortimer, while Fr Eugene O'Hagan was present on behalf of Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Christina Black and the Duke of Abercorn were also welcomed to St Brigid's Church by parish priest Fr Edward O'Donnell.

Jim Fitzpatrick passed away on Saturday following a short illness at the age of 92.

Current and former politicians in attendance included South Belfast SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole, his party colleague, Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty, Sinn Féin Stormont minister Deirdre Hargey and her party colleague John Finucane, MP for North Belfast.

Ex-SDLP leaders Mark Durkan and Alasdair McDonnell along with former West Belfast SDLP MP Joe Hendron were joined by Lord Kilclooney (formerly UUP MP John Taylor) and ex-DUP minister Simon Hamilton who is now chief executive of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce.

Former Sinn Féin Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin was also present along with editor-in-chief of the Belfast Telegraph Eoin Brannigan and Irish News editor Noel Doran.

St Brigid's Church in Belfast following Requiem Mass for Irish News chairman Jim Fitzpatrick. Picture by Mal McCann.

Other public figures who came to pay their respects included Children in the Crossfire charity founder Richard Moore while the PSNI was represented by Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton.

During his homily Fr O'Donnell offered his sympathy to Mr Fitzpatrick's children - Anne, Brid, Bernard, Eileen, Dominic, Clare, Jim and Andrew - 26 grandchildren, six great granddaughters and his surviving sisters, Anne and Dympna.

He also spoke of Mr Fitzpatrick's long life and generosity.

"Jim's life was long and well lived and filled with many blessings," he said.

Mr Fitzpatrick's family carry his coffin from the church. Picture by Mal McCann.

"Blessings which were never taken for granted, as a result they were shared generously with many others.

"Those most blessed are Jim's family, they were everything for him and their sense of loss is great."

Fr O'Donnell told those gathered how Mr Fitzpatrick was educated in Limerick by Redemptorist Fathers and later joined the order to train for the priesthood.

"However, in time he discerned that this was not his calling," he said.

Belfast Mayor Cllr Tina Black at the funeral of Jim FItzpatrick. Picture Mal McCann.

"Some might say that this was the Church's loss, but they would be mistaken.

"Because it was in fact the Church's gain.

"The Church gained an exemplary lay person who with conviction and consistency witnessed to his Christian faith as husband and father, as a professional man and as somebody who involved himself deeply in the cultural and civil life of our society, acutely aware of the importance of ecumenical outreach."

Fr O'Donnell added that Mr Fitzpatrick "understood the laity to be in the front line of the Church's mission".

Children in Crossfire's Richard Moore at the funeral of Irish News Chairman Jim FItzpatrick at St Brigid's Church, Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

"He was aware that it is in the circumstances of everyday life, in family, work, civil involvement, that Christian men and women become the instruments of God's presence in the world," he said.

"It comes as no surprise that Jim had a life long devotion to Saint Thomas More.

"He, like Jim, was a family man, lawyer and greatly involved in the affairs of state.

"More, standing on the scaffold before his execution, described himself as the King's servant but God's first."

Joe Hendron at the funeral of Irish News Chairman Jim FItzpatrick at St Brigid's Church, Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Fr O'Donnell spoke of Mr Fitzpatrick's dedication to the Mass during his long life.

"Throughout his life the Mass was a constant for Jim," he said.

"It was of profound significance, an actual straining forward towards God," he said.

Mr Fitzpatrick's wife Alice, who died in 2013, was also remembered during yesterday's Mass while a short reflection was dedicated to his grandchildren and great granddaughters.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton at the funeral of Irish News Chairman Jim FItzpatrick at St Brigid's Church, Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

A former solicitor, he spent the early part of his life in Belfast before moving to Co Down during World War Two.

He attended boarding school in Limerick, and later studied for his BA degree in Galway.

He returned to Belfast to practice law in a firm owned by his father James, who was also a former Irish News director.

The funeral of Irish News Chairman Jim FItzpatrick at St Brigid's Church, Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Mr Fitzpatrick joined the board of the paper in 1969 and for a time wrote for the title before eventually becoming its managing editor and chairman.

Under his tenure the paper has established itself as the north's biggest-selling daily title.

Kevin McKaw, Belfast property developer and Sinn Fein MP for Belfast North John Finucane, arrive for the funeral of long-time owner of the Irish News newspaper, James Fitzpatrick at St Brigid's Parish Church, Belfast

Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan at the funeral of Irish News Chairman Jim FItzpatrick at St Brigid's Church, Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Former DUP finance minister Simon Hamilton at the funeral of Irish News Chairman Jim FItzpatrick at St Brigid's Church, Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

Picture by Bobbie Hanvey/John J Burns Library

Commandant Claire Mortimer (left) Aide De Camp representing the Taoiseach speaks to Dominic Fitzpatrick (right), son of James Fitzpatrick at the funeral of his father and long-time owner of the Irish News, at St Brigid's Parish Church, Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann 

A mourner holds an order of service at the funeral of long-time owner of the Irish News newspaper, James Fitzpatrick at St Brigid's Parish Church, Belfast. Picture date: Tuesday June 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story FUNERAL Fitzpatrick. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

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