Boyzone return home with body of ‘dearest friend’ Stephen Gately
Stephen Gately's grief-stricken Boyzone bandmates returned to the Republic of Ireland yesterday with the body of their best friend.
The devastated group arrived in Dublin Airport as family, close friends and heartbroken parents, Martin and Margaret, prepared to pay their respects.
Gately's body was due to be taken to Jennings Funeral Directors less than a mile from where he was brought up in the north inner city.
Relatives have planned a private prayer vigil with the four Boyzone members also expected to hold an overnight wake.
The funeral is to take place at St Laurence O'Toole's Church at midday today.
Before leaving Majorca Ronan Keating stood arm in arm with Mikey Graham, Shane Lynch and Keith Duffy and said they were truly overwhelmed at the support they have received in the last week.
It was the first time they have spoken publicly since the 33-year-old singer's death.
“Stephen and Andrew (Gately's partner Andrew Cowles) had chosen to make Majorca their second home and we know that Stephen loved the times they spent together here,” Keating said.
“The countless messages of love and support we have received this week have truly overwhelmed ourselves and the Gately family. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for each and every one of them.”
Gately, who died last Saturday after a night out on the Spanish holiday island, was brought back to the Republic on a private plane along with the remaining Boyzone members and the West End star's civil partner.
They are expected to sing at the funeral mass.
Reading a statement and flanked by his bandmates, Keating said their world had changed forever with Stephen's death.
“Stephen lived to perform and truly loved being centre stage,” he said. “You can be sure he's looking down on us now wishing we'd move over so he could flash his smile for the cameras one more time.
“What the future holds for the four of us now is too hard to even think about.
“But we know that nothing will ever be the same without our dearest friend, Stephen... rest in peace, brother.”
Meanwhile, friends and neighbours in Dublin, still stunned at the singer's sudden death, have been cleaning the church, its grounds and surrounding area to make the terrace street shine for the return of their son.