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She kept me safe on streets, says teenager who fears she will be next to die

By Cate McCurry

Published 22/03/2016

Homeless teenager Maria Brady was cared for by Catherine Kenny
Homeless teenager Maria Brady was cared for by Catherine Kenny
Paul McCullough: Offered help
Caitlin Walsh
Jeanie McGuckin: ‘Everyone loved her’

A homeless teenager who was cared for by the woman who died in a doorway in Belfast has spoken of how she fears she'll be the next to die on the city centre's streets.

Maria Brady, an 18-year-old who has been homeless for two months, was among the many people who stopped at the doorway where Catherine Kenny (32) from Downpatrick was found dead on Saturday morning.

Streams of passers-by stopped to read the sympathy messages and pay their respects at the spot.

Maria from Belfast found herself homeless following a battle with drugs.

She said Catherine kept her safe while living on the streets but now she fears her own life will end in the same way as the Co Down woman.

"I gave her money to buy drink and then she kept me sweet on the street," she said.

"I used to stay with her at night time where she died. She's the best person about and she's been taken away from me. What does it take for people to realise this is a problem? A 32-year-old to die?

"Then who's next? Me? I think so.

"I'll have to do these streets by myself. She helped me so much and only for her I'd be dead. I used to self-harm but Catherine stopped it.

"She wouldn't just sit on the street and drink, she would help others and give people her last penny.

"That's how good of a woman she is, that's why I don't understand. Why was she taken so young?

"I was thrown out because of the drugs I was taking, the stuff I was doing. I was stealing to buy the drugs, that's how bad it got. Now I'm here and I'm going to end up like Catherine next."

Jeanie McGuckin from Belfast spotted Catherine on the morning she was found dead.

She said: "I saw her curled up in a ball and the colour of her was frightening, she was very grey and her lips were worse.

"It was scary seeing her lying there and there were two men sleeping beside her.

"Everyone knew and loved her."

Caitlin Walsh, also from Belfast, who volunteers with the Doyle Youth Club in the Short Strand, met Catherine through her work with the homeless.

"I knew her very well, she was a friend. Every now and again we would go and visit her to see if she was OK and leave her a few things," she said.

"I spoke to her about two weeks ago and she seemed alright.

"I was really sad when I heard she died. She was a well-known and well-liked person. She was really funny and lovely."

Paul McCullough, from Belfast, tried to help Catherine two weeks ago after spotting her in the doorway. "It was a terrible day, it was raining and I stopped with her and asked how she was, she seemed to be drunk and I offered her help," he said.

"We need to bridge that gap and see why they are homeless. There's so many problems out there but there's so many solutions."

Kate Loughran from the city also knew Catherine. The 73-year-old helps the homeless around Belfast.

"Catherine called me 'Mummy Margaret' because of my age but it's a pleasure to have known her and she had a great heart.

"Although she drank she still had respect for herself and respect for others and she would have shared everything no matter what," she added.

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