Belfast Telegraph

Sister of homeless woman Catherine Kenny who died on Belfast streets: 'She knew we loved her, but it wasn't enough'

'She always said see you later and she just turned and walked to the life she felt that she had to live.'

The sister of a homeless woman found dead in a shop doorway in Belfast has said she doesn't want her death to be in vain.

Tributes have been left at the place where Catherine Kenny (32) from Downpatrick died.

She is the fifth homeless person to die on Belfast's streets this year.

Lee-Maria Kenny Hughes told the BBC Stephen Nolan show of her devastation at her sister's death saying she knew they loved her but "it wasn't enough".

In an emotional interview she told how they had tried on many occasions to help her but that addiction to drugs and alcohol had "gripped her".

"I'm devastated. Heartbroken. Robbed of an amazing young girl who absolutely would have helped the lowest in society in the country that we live in. Absolutely full of compassion, joy and 'let me help you', that was her motto."

Lee-Maria told how Catherine's battle with addiction began when she was 16-years-old. But in recent years it took hold of her.

"We have been dealing with this since she was about 16 and back then it was never hard drugs it was never anything other than a few wee stupid pills here and there.

"Then it took hold with a vengeance. It gripped her and took hold of her and we knew, we heard it in her voice, we heard that plea everyday, we talked to her everyday."

Lee-Maria's husband Darren said his sister-in-law went to a "dark place".

"She went downhill. It took hold very quickly.

"Catherine got to a dark place and unfortunately tried many times to get back on the path and to come back and was never able to."

'She knew we loved her but it was never enough'

Catherine lived on the streets for 11 months consecutively and her sister would have visited her on many occasions.

"There was no getting through to her. No matter what we offered her, suggested or encouragement we gave her, no matter how many times we told her we loved her, and she knew we loved her but it was never enough.

"She always at every opportunity we seen her,  she always said see you later, and she just turned and walked to the life she felt that she had to live."

"She said goodbye for one final time. And she'll not say goodbye again."

'eradicate drugs and fix society'

Lee-Maria was keen to stress that they didn't want her to be "just a dead body in the doorway".

Darren said: "As we can see from tributes in the doorway this girl touched people's lives. As much as she was down in her luck and battling her own issues and demons, still she was very well thought of and touched a lot of people's lives and had a family."

Catherine's family have said they don't want her death to be in vain and that in order to prevent more happening, drugs need to be eradicated from society.

"Fix society. Limit how much alcohol people can purchase, increase the price of it.

"I had a conversation with a guy outside where she was found dead and he said to me you can get tins of beer for a fiver, why would you buy yourself a KFC for £6 when you can buy yourself a pack of beer for a fiver. That struck home to me."

And as the family prepare for Catherine's funeral on Wednesday they said they hope speaking out will save a life.

"We don't want Catherine's death to be in vain. She would be the first one to try and save someone's life. If she had managed to find her way back from this, of that i have no doubt she would have tried to save someone else's. "

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