Loyalist murder victim will 'never be mere statistic'

Loyalist murder victim Ciaran Cummings will never be ‘‘a mere statistic’’ of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, mourners at his funeral in Antrim were told today.

Loyalist murder victim Ciaran Cummings will never be ‘‘a mere statistic’’ of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, mourners at his funeral in Antrim were told today.

The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor Dr Patrick Walsh told around 250 mourners at a Requiem Mass for Mr Cummings that while his name would probably be forgotten in the coming weeks, his memory would live on among those who knew him.

‘‘When Ciaran, like so many other hard-working, honest young men left home early on Wednesday morning for his day’s work, he could not have known that he was leaving home for the last time or that by midday his name would be on radio news bulletins and by evening and the next morning in every newspaper,’’ Dr Walsh said.

‘‘For a few days his name has been well known and on the lips of many people but after this weekend his name will soon be forgotten and Ciaran will be another statistic, yet another bare statistic, in the long list of victims of violence.

‘‘But Ciaran will never be forgotten by his family, his family for whom he worked so industriously and it is to you, Ciaran’s family, his mother and father, sister and brother, girlfriend and the wider family circle that the sympathy of all of us in this church goes today.

‘‘For you he will never be a mere statistic, he will be a name - Ciaran, your son, your brother, your boyfriend.’’

Mr Cummings, 19, was shot dead as he waited for a lift to work on Wednesday in an attack claimed by the renegade Red Hand Defenders - a cover name used by several loyalist paramilitary groups.

The Red Hand Defenders said the killing was carried out because of the election of Sinn Fein councillors in the town at the recent local Government elections.

The Requiem Mass today at St Joseph’s Church was just yards from where Mr Cummings was shot dead at the Greystone roundabout on the outskirts of Antrim.

The funeral cortege paused briefly at the roundabout where flowers, cards and football scarves, flags and jerseys of his favourite team Glasgow Celtic had been placed in his memory.

Speaking 24 hours before the controversial annual Orange Order parade at Drumcree in Portadown, the Bishop said his colleagues in the Church had urged everyone to stand together at a ‘‘time of anxiety for so many families’’.

He told the mourners: ‘‘You, the people of Greystone, are doing just that. May I, on this very sad occasion, make this my heartfelt plea - that everywhere neighbour will stand with neighbour with words of reassurance and support.

‘‘That will sometimes, perhaps in many areas, demand courage - but this is a time for courageous hearts.

Among the mourners today were nationalist SDLP Minister in the Stormont Executive Brid Rodgers and Sinn Fein MLA Francie Molloy and representative Martin Meehan.

Local parish priest Father Murray said in his homily that one of the great tragedies of mankind was its ability to take the best things about the world and use them for the worst purposes.

He told mourners: ‘‘This world was intended to be a home. We have made it into a place of violence and hatred.’’

‘‘Now the world can do nothing but wait for you and me to live up to our faith - be that Catholic or Protestant.

Mr Cummings was buried after Requiem Mass at Belmont Cemetery.

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