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Thousands attend McEntee wake and removal

Story by Tom Kelly

Sunday, 23rd December, 2012 9:30pm

Thousands attend McEntee wake and removal

Thousands of mourners were joined by government ministers, farm leaders and sporting figures for the removal on Sunday night of the Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Shane McEntee, from his home to the Church of St John the Baptist in his Meath East constituency.

Earlier plans to hold the funeral in his parish church of Castletown were changed to Nobber, where his father, Tony's funeral took place last year, to facilitate the huge numbers expected.

The Irish Tricolour, Meath and Nobber flags flew at half mast outside the church as the cortege arrived at the church to be received by Fr Martin McErlean, PP, Castletown, and Fr Seamus Houlihan, PP, Nobber, and seven other priests from the diocese.

Mr McEntee's wife, Kathleen, his children, and his mother, Madge, as well as his brothers and sister accompanied his remains.

Fr Houlihan said that "Shane died on the shortest day of the year.

"The darkness had almost covered the world, and God knows, because he didn't know, and neither did the rest of us, what darkness or issues he had inside him," he continued of the minister who took his own life on Friday morning.

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, was represented by his ADC, Comdt Michael Treacy, while the attendance included Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, Minister for Health, James Reilly, Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, and Government chief whip, Paul Kehoe.

Several Fine Gael TDs were clearly emotional as they filed by Mr McEntee's coffin. TDs present included Damien English, Andrew Doyle, chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Agriculture Committee, Joe Carey, Tony McLoughlin, Patrick O'Donovan, John O'Mahony of Fine Gael, Labour's Jack Wall and Emmett Stagg, Independents Catherine Murphy and Mick Wallace, and Senator Thomas Byrne, a former Fianna Fail Meath East TD. MEPs Mairead McGuinness and Sean Kelly were present, as was the former Taoiseach, John Bruton, and his wife Finola.

The IFA was represented by president, John Bryan, and its former leader, Padraig Walsh and former general secretary, Michael Berkery, were present. Padraic Cribben, the chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, was in attendance,.

Sporting figures included former Meath managers Sean Boylan and Eamonn O'Brien, Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, and Kildare manager, Armagh's Kieran McGeeney. The GAA general secretary, Padraic Duffy, attended. Former Attorney General, John Rogers, was present.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin joined the thousands who visited the McEntee home where the minister reposed since Saturday night. Mr Kenny and the President, Michael D Higgins, will attend the funeral on Christmas Eve at 11am.