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Murdered Belfast cabbie McGibbon's widow Joanne pens remarkable message of thanks to Protestant neighbours

By Claire McNeilly

Published 25/04/2016

Joanne McGibbon at a vigil for her murdered husband Michael
Joanne McGibbon at a vigil for her murdered husband Michael
The message Joanne delivered to a Methodist minister
Joanne McGibbon during the funeral of Michael McGibbon at Holy Cross Church in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast on Thursday morning. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Joanne McGibbon with her children during the funeral of Michael McGibbon at Holy Cross Church in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast on Thursday Morning.
The funeral of Michael McGibbon at Holy Cross Church in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast on Thursday Morning.
The funeral of Michael McGibbon at Holy Cross Church in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast on Thursday Morning.
Press Eye Ltd Thursday 21st April 2016 - The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye Ltd Thursday 21st April 2016 - The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Funeral of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in Ardoyne in north Belfast last Friday. The 33-year-old father was shot in a punishment style shooting dying from his wounds later in hospital. Michael McGibbon's wife Joanne and his children follow his coffin as it leaves the family home on the Crumlin Road for Requiem Mass in Holy Cross Church near by. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
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 - 20th April 2016 Funeral of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in Ardoyne in north Belfast last Friday. The 33-year-old father was shot in a punishment style shooting dying from his wounds later in hospital. Michael McGibbon's family follow his coffin as it leaves the family home on the Crumlin Road for Requiem Mass in Holy Cross Church near by. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Michael McGibbon
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2016 Funeral of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in Ardoyne in north Belfast last Friday. The 33-year-old father was shot in a punishment style shooting dying from his wounds later in hospital. Michael McGibbon's family follow his coffin as it leaves the family home on the Crumlin Road for Requiem Mass in Holy Cross Church near by. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Michael McGibbon and wife Joanne
The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Mr McGibbon's wife Joanne McGibbon. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Joanne McGibbon
The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Mr McGibbon's wife Joanne McGibbon. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye Ltd Thursday 21st April 2016 - The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Mr McGibbon's wife Joanne McGibbon. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Mr McGibbon's wife Joanne McGibbon. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Mr McGibbon's wife Joanne McGibbon. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye Ltd Thursday 21st April 2016 - The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Press Eye Ltd Thursday 21st April 2016 - The funeral mass takes place at Holy Cross in North Belfast of Michael McGibbon, who was murdered in the Ardoyne area of the city last Friday evening. Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in his legs in an alleyway at Butler Place. Photo Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Joanne McGibbon is surrounded by her four children as her husband Michael’s remains are brought into Holy Cross Church in north Belfast
Michael McGibbon's wife Joanne kisses her daughter as the coffin is carried into the church
Michael McGibbon
Michael McGibbon's family and friends watch as his coffin is carried into the church
Michael McGibbon

The heartbroken widow of a taxi driver murdered by dissident republicans has written an emotional message about how her husband's death has brought both communities together.

Joanne McGibbon's letter also included a fervent wish that Catholic and Protestant children in north Belfast will have a brighter future to look forward to.

The brave mother-of-four personally delivered her letter to Methodist minister Rev Colin Duncan at the Woodvale Manse on Saturday - just 48 hours after her husband Michael's funeral.

And, in a moving show of strength and kindness, Mrs McGibbon asked the cleric to pass on her gratitude to the local Protestant community for their support during the dark days following his brutal murder.

"I just hope one day that this hatred and evil will be gone and we can all live happy with each other, the way it should be," she wrote.

"Thank you all so much again. It is so lovely to see the two communities agreeing with each other for a change. It would be nice if our children could have a brighter future."

Joanne is understood to have been appreciative of the gesture by the Orange Order to suspend its nightly protest at Twaddell Avenue on Thursday - the day Michael was laid to rest after Requiem Mass in Holy Cross Church.

Mr McGibbon passed away in hospital on April 16, surrounded by his family, after he was shot in the legs in Ardoyne by the so-called New IRA.

One of the gunmen's bullets struck the young father on the thigh, severing a major artery and causing him to bleed to death in an alleyway as Joanne, a nurse, cradled him in her arms.

The 33-year-old had gone to meet his killers at Butler Place after refusing to come to the door when two paramilitaries visited his house in Ardoyne 24 hours earlier.

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.

His shocking murder robbed Joanne of a husband and their children - daughters Seanna (17), six-year-old Michaela and Corry-Leigh (4), and their nine-year-old son Shea - of a father.

"To all our neighbours 'on the other side', in Woodvale, Glencairn, Twaddell (Twinbrook LOL) etc etc", the hand-written card began. "I just want to thank you all for the cards and support you have shown to my husband Michael and my family during this difficult time. I have lots of friends who are Protestants and other religions and they all mean a lot to me. It just shows we are all human and feel the same way.

"I have nursed people from all religions/cultures and cared for them all equally."

Mr McGibbon, who was working for Five Star taxis, was targeted after unfounded allegations were made about him making inappropriate comments to a young female passenger.

He left his job with Glenard cabs on Ardoyne Avenue as a result and had assumed a new job as a driver with the Antrim Road company when he was killed.

Five Star also employs prominent dissident Damien 'Dee' Fennell, who was arrested last weekend in connection with Mr McGibbon's murder before later being freed without charge.

Despite the unproven claims about the former chef being at least a year old, they were still being cited as the reason for his murder.

Signing off "Love, Joanne McGibbon xo", the widow entrusted the card to Rev Duncan, who then passed on its contents and sentiment to local parishioners.

DUP North Belfast Assembly candidate William Humphrey said the community had been touched by how Mrs McGibbon had dealt with her tragic loss.

"As someone born and raised in the Woodvale, I am not surprised to read that people from the Greater Shankill community have been of support to Joanne and her family," he said.

"The cancellation of the Orange Institution's Twaddell protest was a manifestation of that.

"I, like many others, have been moved and impressed with how Joanne has conducted herself. Her quiet dignity and decorum is an example to us all and is in stark contrast to the evil people who murdered her dear husband."

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