Priest condemns violence as murder victim James McDonagh laid to rest
A priest told hundreds of mourners at the funeral of a murdered young father that it can be hard "to see the plan of God in the midst of the brutality which confronts us in this moment".
Fr Paul Byrne was speaking at Requiem Mass at the Church of the Holy Family in Coalisland, for James McDonagh (28).
Mr McDonagh, who was married to Christina, had two boys, James and Patrick, and lived in Castledawson, Co Londonderry.
He died in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast after an assault outside the Elk Inn near the village and Toomebridge in the early hours of Sunday, January 10.
Fr Byrne told mourners, many of them from the Travelling community: "Today we gather in complete dismay and sadness, even in a state of shock and anger that Jim has been taken from us.
"His young life cut so short in tragic circumstances - circumstances that should have and could have been avoided.
"Violence has become too easy and too acceptable. Respect needs to be re-established in our world. Respect for human dignity, respect for human rights, respect for freedom, respect for life."
He also told mourners it can be hard "to see the plan of God in the midst of the brutality which confronts us in this moment".
"But in this Jubilee Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis, we are reminded that God the Father is merciful and forgiving," he added.
In his homily, Fr Byrne also reminded mourners that 'Jim' will be "with God as Christ has promised".
He added: "Although his death has come so abruptly and at such a young age, we believe in the hope of eternal life and eternal peace. Nothing and no-one can ever harm him again. But the pain of his loss will throb in the hearts of his wife, Christina, his children, James and Patrick, in the hearts of his parents and sisters and brothers along with the entire family circle."
Mr McDonagh was buried afterwards in the parish cemetery. A 33-year-old woman arrested on Saturday in Banbridge by police investigating the murder has been released on bail.
A 24-year-old man appeared in court last week charged with murder. The court was told the cause of death was a blow to the back of the head, possibly caused by Mr McDonagh falling after an attack.