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Michael McGibbon's widow recalls their final moments together as family prepares for funeral - 'He smiled, looked up and I knew he was with his mum'

By Allan Preston

Published 21/04/2016

Michael McGibbon and wife Joanne
Michael McGibbon and wife Joanne
Michael McGibbon died after being shot last Friday night
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Widow Joanne McGibbon joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Michael McGibbon's widow Joanne with their daughters Michaela (left) and Seana at a vigil which was held in Ardoyne on Tuesday night

The widow of a murdered Belfast taxi driver said she feared the worst when he went out to be shot last Friday night.

Michael McGibbon was blasted in the legs three times in a shooting by appointment thought to have been ordered by dissident republicans.

He later died in his wife Joanne's arms.

She described their last moments together.

She told UTV: "I think Michael thought he was going down to have a word with them to sort it out, but yeah, deep down inside, I had a gut feeling what was going to happen.

"The only thing I could think of the whole day was: 'I have to save him.'"

As her husband prepared to face those who would ultimately take his life, Joanne said: "I just hugged him. I didn't even know how to look at him. The two of us just hugged each other."

After he was shot she rushed to his aid.

"I tried so hard to save him, but at the end, he spoke to his mummy and he looked up there and he smiled and I knew she was with him."

For Joanne, he will always be the bravest man she has ever known.

Widow Joanne McGibbon (centre) with her daughters Michaela and Seana and Fr Gary Donegan joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Widow Joanne McGibbon (centre) with her daughters Michaela and Seana and Fr Gary Donegan joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Michael McGibbon died after being shot by dissident republicans in an alleyway
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Michael McGibbon and wife Joanne
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Widow Joanne McGibbon joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Widow Joanne McGibbon (centre) with her daughter Seana and Fr Gary Donegan joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Seana McGibbon joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Seana McGibbon and joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon
Pacemaker Press 18/4/2016 The alleyway at Butler Place, Where Michael McGibbon was shot, The PSNI have said his killing carried the hallmarks of a paramilitary murder. A 34-year-old man is still being questioned. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 18/4/2016 PSNI officers near the Family Home (of Michael McGibbon) in the Ardoyne area in North Belfast on Monday, As they continue their investigation into the Murder of Michael McGibbon, 33, who died after an attack in an alleyway at Butler Place, with police saying his killing carried the hallmarks of a paramilitary murder. A 34-year-old man is still being questioned. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 18/4/2016 The alleyway at Butler Place, Where Michael McGibbon was shot, The PSNI have said his killing carried the hallmarks of a paramilitary murder. A 34-year-old man is still being questioned. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 18/4/2016 PSNI officers in the Ardoyne area in North Belfast on Monday, As they continue their investigation into the Murder of Michael McGibbon, 33, who died after an attack in an alleyway at Butler Place, with police saying his killing carried the hallmarks of a paramilitary murder. A 34-year-old man is still being questioned. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 18/4/2016 Graffiti near The alleyway at Butler Place, Where Michael McGibbon was shot, The PSNI have said his killing carried the hallmarks of a paramilitary murder. A 34-year-old man is still being questioned. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
PACEMAKER BELFAST 19/04/2016 Joanne McGibbon with her young daughter at the candle light vigil that was held at Holy Cross Church last night in support of her husband Michael who was murdered earlier this week
PACEMAKER BELFAST 19/04/2016 Joanne McGibbon with her young daughter at the candle light vigil that was held at Holy Cross Church last night in support of her husband Michael who was murdered earlier this week
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Widow Joanne McGibbon joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon who was shot dead in North Belfast at the weekend.

"I'll remember him as who he was - just a fantastic husband and a fantastic father," she said.

"He would have done anything for us and he proved it that night." Mrs McGibbon said the support from across the community had helped her deal with her loss, especially at a vigil on Tuesday night.

"It just meant so much to me that the two communities even came together," Joanne said.

"If only it could be more like this." She added: "I really hope that something good does come out of this. Our pain will never be away - but I just hope there's some good.

"We're all the same - everybody's the same. We all have the same feelings and nobody needs to be fighting and torturing other people.

"We're not complicit in this - we're the opposite to this. We're everything that is good and that is the message that we want to send out. 'Not in our name'."

Yesterday his family paid tribute to "the best daddy and husband in the world" ahead of his funeral today.

His remains will leave his house on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast for a 10am Requiem Mass at Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne.

Joanne and their children Seana, Shea, Michaela and Corry-Leigh prepared this tribute: "You will always be remembered by us as the best daddy and husband in the world. You were so brave and strong for us because you loved us so much.

"The children and I know how much you loved us and we will love you forever and ever.

"You believed as I did that life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain and as much as I know you hated dancing, I know you'll be dancing with us now.

"Rest in peace with your mummy, love. We will be just fine xoxo."

Mr McGibbon's father Alex wrote: "You are with your mummy now. Will be dearly missed by your loving father Alex, brothers Gerald and John, sister Mairead and nephew Matthew... Love you forever."

His brother Gerald wrote: "To have had and then to part is the cruellest trial of the human heart. The tears in our eyes we can wipe away, but the pain in our hearts remains to stay. Rest in the peace you deserve."

It was reported that Mr McGibbon had contacted police last Thursday, frightened for his life after two masked men came to his front door. Police have said they believe a number of other people have had similar visits in recent weeks.

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