It was a moment of joy in the worst of days for Preston Hutch. After following his father’s coffin the 300m or so from the front door of his grandmother’s house to the church, he released the birds on the steps of the chapel.
Five white doves fluttered out and soared into the clear blue sky, to claps and hurrahs from mourners.
It was a fitting tribute to Gareth Hutch, who, though called ‘Gar’ by many also went by the nickname Seagull.
Preston, who turns seven next month, was consoled by family and friends, some 12 of whom carried his father’s coffin from Drumalee estate.
They supported each other as they shouldered the weight of their loved one under the midday sun, down Aughrim Road to Holy Family Church.
The cortege was led by a lone bagpiper as large numbers of locals from the north inner city community swelled the procession and flanked the footpaths.
Leading the mourners and walking behind the hearse was Preston and six other children, all dressed in black suits or dresses.
One relative, holding a large photo of Gareth, held Preston’s shoulder in support.
Gareth Hutch, 35, was shot dead on May 24, the day after he went to a councillor expressing concern over the safety of his son. His was the seventh murder in the Kinahan-Hutch feud — six of them carried out by associates of the Kinahan crime cartel.
Two other members of the wider Hutch family have been shot dead: Gary Hutch in Spain last September and Eddie Hutch in the north inner city last February.
There was a heavy garda presence, comprising uniformed gardaí and traffic corps, as well as a significant number of armed plain-clothes officers and members of the Special Detective Unit.
The elite Emergency Response Unit was positioned outside the church and the garda helicopter flew overhead. Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy, in charge of the division, was also present.
There was no sign of the patriarch of the family, Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, uncle to Gareth.
Chief celebrant Fr Paddy Madden said Gareth’s parents Vera and Johnny had brought their boy to the church almost 36 years ago for his baptism, but were back now “mourning their child”.
He said Gareth was a young man “taken in his prime”, whose “primary concern” was for the safety, wellbeing, care and protection of Preston.
“Life is precious, life is sacred, life is god-given,” said Fr Madden in his homily. “Every tragedy has a human face. Beyond analysis and speculation we have pain and tears.”
He called on those intent on violence to “seek peace and not disaster”.
He added: “Breaking the cycle of violence is not easy. It needs courage, restraint, goodwill and right reason, and a desire for peace.”
There's a large Garda presence at the funeral of Gareth Hutch in Dublin. The 35-year-old was shot dead last week pic.twitter.com/r2bNZfMc88— Newstalk (@NewstalkFM) June 3, 2016
Sisters and friends spoke of Gareth’s “charm” and “year-long tan”. He was a “character” they said, who loved “slagging” and playing pranks on people.
The strains of ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ echoed down the aisles as Gareth’s family and friends carried his remains from the church outdoors and to his final resting place.
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