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Donegal crash: We don’t blame driver for death of our beautiful son

Eamon Sweeney, the father of crash victim, 19-year-old Ciaran Sweeney, yesterday said Shaun Kelly, the driver of the black Volkswagen Passat in which seven young men lost their lives, was not to blame for the death of his “beautiful son”.

Mr Sweeney was speaking from the altar at the funeral of his son in St Mary's Church, Clonmany, yesterday afternoon. He said that he and his family “want it made perfectly clear that we do not hold or blame Shaun or anyone else in any way for the loss of our beautiful son and brother Ciaran. The Kelly family will always be welcomed into our home with open arms”.

Shaun Kelly is the sole survivor of the worst car crash in the history of the state when two cars — the Passat and a Toyota Corolla driver by pensioner Hugh Friel — collided on a stretch of road between Buncrana and Clonmany last Sunday night. The 22-year-old is in intensive care at Letterkenny Hospital.

The funeral of Ballyliffin teenager Ciaran Sweeney was the second to take place yesterday at St Mary's Church. Mr Sweeney's close friend, 19-year old Paul Doherty, had been buried earlier that morning.

At 1pm hundreds of people lined along the road outside the church grounds as the funeral cortege arrived. At its head were Mr Sweeney's parents Eamon and Claire, his two brothers Rory and Owen and his sister Orla.

The priest officiating at the Requiem Mass was Father Michael Sweeney, a relative and friend of the family. Father Sweeney told the packed church that he had been a neighbour of the family and he used to spend Christmas Day with them. “That's a very personal thing to do, to invite anybody to your table. What it means is that we want you to be part of our family,” he said.

The priest said that he had watched Ciaran grow up and described him as “a very fine young man, intelligent, you were always at ease in his company”.

“For a period when Eamon wasn't well, Ciaran became a father-figure in that home for his brothers and sister and he was a tremendous support to his mother Claire,” the priest added.

At the end of the Mass, both parents paid an emotional farewell to their son, and had a special word for his girlfriend, Catherine Ann Kelly, sister of the car's driver, Shaun.

“We know he loved her, as do we. And he really could not have met a nicer girl,” Eamon Sweeney said. “The death of Ciaran causes us great pain, but a huge feeling of happiness and pride lives and breathes in us as well. We feel we are the luckiest parents in the world to have had a son like Ciaran.”

The final funeral, that of James McEleney (23), takes place this morning in the same church.

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