Belfast Telegraph

Priest leads tributes after his housekeeper Margaret McLaughlin dies in road accident

Man charged with causing death by dangerous driving to appear in court

By Donna Deeney

A community has been left in shock after a priest's housekeeper - described by a friend as "a saint of a woman" - became the latest person to lose their life on our roads.

Margaret McLaughlin (69) was the front seat passenger in a car involved in a collision with a lorry on the Urney Road in Strabane at 10.30pm on Monday.

She died from her injuries early yesterday morning.

Her husband, Pat, who was driving the car at the time of the incident, was in a stable condition in hospital last night.

A man arrested at the scene by the PSNI has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving. The 20-year-old will also be charged with other motoring offences when he appears before Dungannon Magistrates' Court this morning.

Mrs McLaughlin, who worked as housekeeper to parish priest Fr Michael Doherty for the past 27 years, was well known throughout the Co Tyrone town.

Fr Doherty, who was away on holiday when he received the tragic news, abandoned his plans immediately so he could return home to offer his support to her family.

"Margaret was first and foremost a tremendous wife, mother and grandmother," he said. "Margaret was a modest and gentle woman and like Pat, her husband, was very parish-orientated.

"Her gentle nature was in contrast to the violent way in which she died, but we will keep everyone in our prayers in these coming days."

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said the family was completely shattered by the accident.

"I cannot begin to comprehend how much of a tragedy this is for the McLaughlin family," he added

"Margaret and Pat were so devoted to each other, you rarely saw one without the other.

"I feel so much for their son, Aidan, and daughters Bronagh, Julie and Laura.

"The turmoil they are in now is unimaginable. They are grieving the loss of their mother, along with the need to be at their father's hospital bedside. The whole town of Strabane is in a state of stunned shock - they were so well-known and loved by everybody."

Among the local people paying tribute was Kathleen McGonigle, who said: "Margaret McLaughlin was a saint of a woman. I know it is easy to say that of someone when they have died, but she really was, and her husband Pat is the same.

"They would have done anything for anyone and did it with a kind heart. Margaret was such a vibrant, fun-loving woman.

"If you were feeling a bit low she would lift your spirits after two minutes in her company. I was glad I knew her. She will be sorely missed in this town."

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