Belfast Telegraph

Anne O'Neill murder: Mourners hear of 'deeply painful double tragedy' for family at funeral

The priest giving the funeral for Belfast murder victim Anne O'Neill has said it is a "double tragedy" for the family and offered prayers for her son who is accused of the killing.

Mrs O'Neill died after being attacked at a house on Ardmore Avenue in Finaghy, Belfast in the early hours of Saturday, October 21.

The retired nurse was discovered lifeless on the grass with head injuries at her parents' home.

Emergency crews tried desperately to resuscitate the mother-of-two in the back garden of the small bungalow but were unable to save her and she died at the scene.

Son Declan O'Neill, 27, of Malone Avenue, was remanded in custody charged with her murder. The doctor, who denies the charge, had been working as a locum at Belfast Trust hospitals. He did not seek bail when he was charged with murder.

Family and friends of Mrs O'Neill gathered for Requiem Mass in St Anne's Church at Kingsway, Finaghy, on Tuesday morning.

In his homily Fr Feargal  McGrady, the parish priest, told mourners: "As this is a double tragedy, we pray in a special way for Declan this morning."

He said that everyone's "hearts are breaking" for Ms O'Neill's elderly parents Claire and George and all the family.

"It just seems too much. Too much also for Anne's daughter Claire-Anne who is at the cliff-face of this double tragedy," he said.

"I wish we could change it, Claire-Anne, but we all need to help you live for the future.

"We are all to some extent held captive in this world, imprisoned - we've made bad choices or made mistakes, or sometimes we are victims of circumstance, life seems to have thrown us a raw deal.

"Each of us struggles with the things that hold us captive ... We now need courage to let go of all the hindsight and the 'if onlys'.

"Life is a mystery, it remains a mystery. It's not so important to know all the whys. But it is important that we learn to accept it and all the unanswered questions.

"We cannot change the past, but we can live for the future."

Ms O'Neill is survived by her parents, her children Claire-Anne and Declan, their father Kevin, her brothers Gerard and Paul and wider family circle.

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