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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

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.

"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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