Son of murdered Jean McConville brought his family back together, funeral told

The coffin of Billy McConville, son of IRA murder victim Jean McConville, is taken from St Paul's Parish Church, Belfast following his funeral service. Photos: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The son of "Disappeared" murder victim Jean McConville brought his family back together, his daughter told his funeral.

Billy McConville's mother was abducted then murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1972, wrongly accused of informing to the British.

Mr McConville was orphaned aged six and said he was subjected to sexual and physical abuse while in residential care.

Despite his "lifelong nightmare" of trauma he laughed and bantered to the end, even in the face of cancer which took him aged 50 at the weekend, a priest told mourners.

Mrs McConville's body was recovered in 2003 and Wednesday's funeral was held in the same Catholic church, St Paul's in West Belfast, where his mother's took place, her framed photo riding with him in the hearse.

His daughter Aime said: "You were so strong and unbelievably brave, braver than anyone I knew.

Members of the Wave FC carrying the coffin of Billy McConville is taken from St Paul's Parish Church.

"You built your bridges to everyone and you brought your family back together."

She added: "Rest in peace dad, I love you and I will miss you."

The father-of-four's brother Michael earlier urged politicians in Northern Ireland to fulfil his dying wish and compensate those who suffered institutional abuse.

Brother James McConville (right) joins pallbearers carrying the coffin of Billy McConville.

He dragged himself from his hospital bed just days before his death to join a rally for justice for the victims after a public inquiry said they should be compensated following decades of harm in state and religious-run homes.

Despite his troubles, Mr McConville left an abiding memory of his sense of humour and compassion for others, his family said.

His niece Bronagh said: "Billy learned a lot in his life, it shaped him as the person he was, a caring, loving, funny and compassionate person."

Sister Helen McKendry (right) joins pallbearers carrying the coffin of Billy McConville

His great gift was making people laugh.

"It was the one thing he always wanted, was laughter.

"One thing that did not change in Billy throughout his sickness was the need for jokes and people smiling."

Michael McConville (centre) attending the funeral of his brother

She said he managed the football team at the Wave Trauma Centre for victims of the Northern Ireland conflict, trying to make a difference.

Fr Patrick McCafferty said the abduction of his mother had been the cruellest of misdeeds.

"This act of inexcusable wickedness plunged Billy and his brothers and sisters in a lifelong nightmare of terror and trauma."

Floral tributes at the funeral service of Billy McConville

After her killing he was placed in residential care at Rubane House in Co Down, run by brothers from the De La Salle religious order.

Mr McConville claimed he suffered sexual and physical harm in their care.

He appeared before a Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) public inquiry in 2014 to detail his experience and in the days before his death called on politicians to secure justice and compensation for abuse survivors.

The coffin is brought into St Paul's Parish Church, Belfast for the funeral service.

Fr McCafferty added: "There are those with the power to implement the findings of the Historical Institutional Abuse public inquiry.

"They must do so, immediately, as a matter of urgency.

"All of society has an obligation to make reparation to these sisters and brothers of ours, who were so deeply wounded during their tender years."

Victims' campaigners from Wave and prominent lobbyist Margaret McGuckin attended.

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