Hundreds gather to pay tribute to slain boy

RESIDENTS of a west Dublin suburb turned out in large numbers yesterday to pay tribute to a young Nigerian student who died in a stabbing incident at the weekend.

A crowd of over 300 people gathered for a memorial service in honour of 15-year-old Toyosi Shittabey near his home yesterday morning.

The memorial service was staged at the exact location where the football-loving student was fatally attacked shortly after 8pm on Friday at The Boulevard, Mount Eustace – a modern housing estate in Tyrrelstown which is home to a large African community.

Prayers were recited and hymns sung by the sympathisers who consisted of members of the Nigerian community in Ireland as well as other local residents and friends of the dead youth, who was a third-year student at Hartstown Community School.

Many of the onlookers said they were shocked and shaken by the death of the schoolboy, who was one of six children who came with his parents to Ireland 10 years ago.

The Nigerian ambassador, Kemafo Nonyerem Chikwe, who attended the ceremony, described the strong show of solidarity by all sections of the local community as “overwhelming”.

Ms Chikwe said it was very encouraging to see Irish people and many other nationalities coming together to show their support for the family of the dead Nigerian student.

Gardaí believe the fatal incident was preceded by an earlier altercation between a number of people at Mount Garrett Rise in Tyrrelstown shortly after 7pm.

Detectives leading the investigation have appealed for assistance from any witnesses to either incident as well as anyone who may have seen a Black Nissan Qashqai in the area on Friday evening.

Gardaí discovered Toyosi lying in the street with a knife wound to the heart. Although he was rushed by ambulance to the nearby James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown, he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Over the weekend, local gardaí, supported by officers from the Garda Community Policing Section and the Garda Racial and Intercultural Office, carried out door- to-door inquiries in the area.

A Garda spokesperson admitted that tension was heightened within the Tyrrelstown area as a result of the incident.

However, Gardaí appealed for calm as two men had been arrested and charged in relation to the crime.

The fatal incident took place after Toyosi was returning home with friends from a local swimming pool in Blanchardstown on Friday evening.

Meanwhile, Equality and Integration Minister Mary White expressed her profound sadness at the fatal stabbing of the young student. Ms White, the Green Party deputy leader, said she was shocked by the mindless violence which had ended young Toyosi’s life.

“I sincerely regret this attack on a member of one of our new communities and wish to extend my deepest sympathise to the Shittabey family,” said Ms White.

She also expressed her support for the important work that local community leaders and gardaí were doing to promote intercultural awareness in Tyrrelstown and elsewhere.

Ms White said she hoped that Toyosi’s attackers would “swiftly face the justice they deserve”.

The board of management of Shelbourne Football Club also offered their sympathy to Toyosi’s family and friends on the death of the student, who played for the club’s under 15 team.

The FAI said the promising young soccer player would be missed by everyone involved in Irish football.

In a statement, Joan Burton, Labour TD for Dublin North-West, said she was “shocked and saddened” by the incident.

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