Honeymoon murder ‘an evil act’, hear thousands of mourners

THE murder of honeymooner Michaela Harte was an “evil act”, mourners at her funeral were told.

Her heartbroken father, gaelic football manager Mickey Harte, and her husband John carried her coffin as the crowd walked in silence to the church where she was married last month.

She was buried in her wedding dress.

President Mary McAleese was among dignitaries at a funeral attended by more than 3,000 people.

The 27-year-old Irish language teacher was strangled in her honeymoon suite in Mauritius a week ago.

Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, the widower’s uncle, married the couple and delivered the address.

He said: “An evil act ended Michaela’s young life last Monday, it robbed John of his beautiful wife, it deprived the Harte family, Michaela’s mum and dad and brothers, of their precious daughter and sister.

“It deprived the McAreavey family of the daughter-in-law they looked forward to having. It shattered homes, hopes and dreams for the future.”

Mr Harte, Michaela’s mother Marian, and brothers Mark, Michael and Mattie led mourners at the compact country church after one of the main roads running through Tyrone was closed for the funeral procession.

Symbols representing Michaela Harte’s beauty, faith, love of family and the Irish language were presented at the beginning of the service. Primate of the Catholic Church in Ireland Archbishop Sean Brady also took part.

Bishop McAreavey said people would want to hold on to memories of the wedding rather than the tragedy which happened shortly afterwards.

“Even those of us who are older and who had some experience of tragedy have been shaken to the core by what has happened. We are still in a state of shock,” he added.

He said her faith was “deep, simple and real” and remarked she was delighted and proud to take her husband’s name.

The bishop added: “At their wedding everyone commented on the glow of happiness that radiated from Michaela and John. Finally they were united as husband and wife. They had pledged their love to one another.”

She was deeply religious, passionate about Irish and her father’s number one fan. She followed him across Ireland as he managed the three-times All-Ireland winning Tyrone GAA team.

Mourners at the funeral included Stormont deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, senior GAA officials like president Christy Cooney and Ulster secretary Danny Murphy, as well as president of the Ulster rugby branch Nigel Hamilton and Irish Football Association president Jim Shaw. The High Commissioner of Mauritius to the UK, Abhimanu Kundasamy, was present. The Church of Ireland was represented by the Bishop of Down and Dromore Harold Miller, and Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Ken Good.

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson was represented by Mary Madden and Taoiseach Brian Cowen by Commandant Michael Tracey.

Players from Mr Harte’s Tyrone team and his home club, Errigal Ciarán, formed a guard of honour as Michaela’s coffin was taken from her parents’ home.

Pupils from the late Irish teacher’s form class in St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon, and players from Mr McAreavey’s Tullylish GAA club in Down accompanied the coffin into the church.

Caledonia was sung by Mary Black during the service. The captain of the Tyrone GAA football team, Brian Dooher, gave the first reading. Southwinds, an instrumental piece, was played by first cousins of Michaela, Cathal, Marisa and Cathy Harte.

Three men, all staff at the luxury Legends hotel, have been charged in connection with the killing, thought to have happened as Michaela Harte disturbed a burglary in her room.

Room attendant Avinash Treebhoowoon, 29, and floor supervisor Sandip Moneea, 41, have been charged with murder, and room attendant Raj Theekoy, 33, with conspiracy to murder.

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