Community mourns for family’s ‘unspeakable loss’

PEOPLE in Kenmare, Co Kerry, where a younger sister of Iraq hostage Margaret Hassan is living, yesterday spoke of their sense of shock and outrage at her kidnapping.

Up to 1,000 people attended an ecumenical ceremony in the town, the birthplace of Ms Hassan’s mother, Mary, and where her sister, Geraldine, lives with her family.

Her sister, Geraldine Riney, married with three children, has lived in Kenmare for about 20 years. Her husband, Jerry Riney, is a teacher in the local second-level college, Scoil Inbhear Sceine. Their children are Niamh, Deirdre and Sean.

Parish priest Fr Tom Crean told the congregation at the Holy Cross Church that Ms Hassan’s death “pierces to the marrow of all our beings”.

Since her abduction, locals have lit candles in the church every day and she was prayed for at every ceremony.

Fr Crean paid tribute to Ms Hassan’s sister, Geraldine, and her family for their dignity in dealing with the tragedy.

It is understood that neither Geraldine nor her family attended the service, but were staying with relatives in London.

Fr Crean said afterwards: “Our hearts just cry in pain with Margaret’s family. All our thoughts and prayers are with them as they come to terms with this unspeakable loss. We’re together in prayer in our vigil with the family.”

Fr Crean said he now prayed for the safe return of Ms Hassan’s body so that “we can fully honour and celebrate her life”. Geraldine Riney declined to speak to reporters, who were turned away from the family’s red brick bungalow at Killowen, about a mile outside Kenmare.

A silver car was parked outside the house, which is surrounded by high hedges.

Reporters were asked to leave the grounds of the Riney home and told that they were trespassing on private property. A garda was also at the scene.

However, friends and neighbours continued to visit and make phone calls during the day, supporting the family in their distress.

Kerry South Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae said he had been in contact with the Taoiseach’s department and Department of Foreign Affairs to ensure everything possible was being done to secure Ms Hassan’s release.

Kenmare-based FF Cllr Michael Connor-Scarteen said local people were shocked when the news came through on Tuesday night. He said Margaret Hassan was a regular visitor to Kenmare and everyone was very upset over her kidnapping.

Margaret Hassan’s mother, Mary Fitzsimons (née Sugrue), is a native of Reen, Kenmare, and lives in England. Her father, Peter Fitzsimons, was from Dublin. He died recently.

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