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Family and friends bid a sad farewell to officer

By Victoria O'Hara

Dromore was packed today for the funeral of Constable James Magee — one of the four young PSNI officers killed in the road crash near Warrenpoint.

The four officers who died in Sunday’s accident were, from left, James Magee, Kevin Gorman, Declan Greene and Kenny Irvine. The funerals of Constables Magee, Gorman and Irvine will take place today
The four officers who died in Sunday’s accident were, from left, James Magee, Kevin Gorman, Declan Greene and Kenny Irvine. The funerals of Constables Magee, Gorman and Irvine will take place today

In the small market town of Dromore in Co Down hundreds of mourners slowly gathered this morning to say goodbye to James Magee.

Three days ago the news of his death — along with his three colleagues in the horrendous crash — shattered the south Down coast. Today loved ones stood numb, still in shock at what has happened.

In the wake of the fatal accident one friend said the 27-year-old full-time police officer from Newcastle had “a great future in the PSNI”.

That future was cut short on Sunday while on duty.

Following a private prayer service at a local funeral home, people who knew and loved the young officer made the journey to Dromore Cathedral where the funeral service took place.

His parents, Bawn and Freda, twin sister Sarah and younger sister Rachel were among family, friends and colleagues who gathered on the sad winter’s day.

Mourners from across the province stood side by side in and outside the cathedral to remember and celebrate the life of James Magee — a father, son, brother and friend to many.

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and ACC for Rural Region Judith Gillespie were among senior police members who came to pay their last respects.

Politicians including the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson, Jimmy Spratt and Joe McDonald from the RUC George Cross Foundation also attended the funeral.

As the church bell tolled at 11am mourners stood outside heads bowed watching as former police colleagues of Mr Magee carried his coffin into the cathedral.

Leading the service was the Very Rev Stephen Lowry who told mourners that James enjoyed people and “loved to understand what made people tick”.

“When he applied for the PSNI he thought that like many he would have to make a couple of attempts to gain a place, but no. With his high marks and aptitude he got in first time,” he said.

The Rev Lowry also told mourners James had recently passed exams to get into the CID, which was his goal.

“People speak of his good manners his endless acts of kindness and an able mind,” he said.

“His colleagues speak of his willingness and enthusiasm for his work.

“His death has brought to a sudden end many of the hopes that we had for him but it has brought no shame for he died on duty in the prime of his life and with everything to live for.”

It was a tragic accident that happened in moments but will have a lasting imprint on the minds of the surrounding communities.

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde had previously commented on how hard the accident had affected the families.

“They were family men and it's going to be an extraordinarily difficult few weeks leading up to Christmas as people come to terms with what has been a truly dreadful event,” he said.

As James was being laid to rest miles away in Kilkeel, the funerals of his colleagues in Drumaness and Kilkeel were just beginning.

They all shared a dedication to serve the community which sadly took their lives, but in the eyes of the people they helped protect they died heroes.

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