Belfast Telegraph

Memorial service for quake victims

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has expressed his sympathies to the families of two Irish men killed in the Christchurch earthquake.

Relatives of Owen McKenna from Co Monaghan and John Joseph O'Connor, originally from Co Kerry, attended a memorial service along with the New Zealand ambassador to Ireland and members of the diplomatic corps.

Ambassador Derek Leask read a message to the relatives from Mr Key during the service at Dublin's Christ Church cathedral.

"I (Mr Key) want to extend my deep personal sympathies and condolences to the Irish families that lost loved ones in Christchurch," Mr Leask read. "My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

"This was not just a tragedy for Christchurch or for New Zealand. It was an international tragedy that has impacted on the lives of many around the world, including here in Ireland."

Mr McKenna was buried last Wednesday in his native Truagh, after he was crushed to death in his car during last month's disaster. His mother Theresa attended along with his brothers and sisters.

Mr O'Connor, an accountant from Abbeydorney, was working in the Pyne Gould building when the quake struck on February 22. His funeral took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, over the weekend. His cousin Alma and sister-in-law Margaret were among the congregation at the Dublin memorial service.

The service, which was organised by the New Zealand Ireland Association, was composed of prayers and hymns, while preacher Dr Margaret Daly-Denton gave the address. She also read a message from the Dean of Christchurch cathedral in New Zealand, Peter Beck.

A framed photograph of Mr McKenna rested at the foot of the altar, while the New Zealand flag was also present.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Mary McAleese were represented by their aides-de-Camp.

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