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Priest at funeral of Lurgan man Shane Whitla says ‘murder can never, ever be justified’

Shane Whitla funeral

Mourners at the funeral of Lurgan man Shane Whitla heard how “murder can never, ever be justified”.

Fr. Joseph Wozniak presided over Requiem Mass for the 39-year-old at St Peter’s Church in the town earlier this morning (Friday).

He told those who had gathered that “Shane was a life-loving person with a massive heart who loved his family more than anything”.

“His children were his heart and soul – he lived for them,” he said.

“He will be deeply missed by all, especially by his children and sister Patrice. Shane, you have now gained your angel wings and are at peace, united with your father and your loving sister, Natasha.”

Fr Wozniak described Shane’s death as both “brutal and callous”.

“It is important for us to always remember that murder can never, ever be justified. For what has happened to Shane isn’t right and if we feel bitter and angry, as well as deeply grieved at the unfairness of it all, there is no-one in heaven or earth who can blame us. Things aren’t meant to be like this. Everything is meant to be different.

“There are just no easy words we can say that can explain the injustice of what has happened to Shane; all we can do today is to be whatever comfort we can be to all of Shane’s family.

“Apart from this, all we can do is be here with Shane and surround him with words of kindness and respect and to give thanks in honour of all the goodness that was in him and to lay him to rest in the warm embrace of this love, kindness and gratitude.”

Fr Wozniak added that “over the past few days I don’t think I have heard anything except the very kind and the very genuine words about Shane”.

“He was a good man,” he said. “This is what so many people have been saying these past few days, as we have all struggled to come to terms with the tragedy that brings us together now.

“This is a sad, cruel goodbye we have to say today. We can be grateful for what Shane was and he meant to everyone who loved him, liked him, enjoyed him and appreciated him. For the fact that his life, so short, was a good and happy life and that the memories of him are always going to be good and warm. I pray that Shane is with God now.

“We know that nothing is going to be quite the same again. Our hearts have been wounded by this grief and the scars we now have will always be there. We wish that things were not like this but young though that he was but we are glad of the gift of Shane’s life, we are glad of his love and his friendship and we are glad to have known and loved him.”

Mr Whitla’s coffin was taken from the church to the poignant song ‘Lady of Knock’.

He was laid to rest in St Colman’s cemetery.

At the same time, the man accused of his murder appeared in Craigavon Magistrates’ Court.

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