Belfast Telegraph

Eimear Quinn's boyfriend pays tribute to tragic student after death in Belfast

Belfast's Cromwell Road
Belfast's Cromwell Road

By Gillian Halliday

The boyfriend of a university student who died suddenly in the Holyland area of Belfast has paid a heartbreaking tribute to his "beautiful angel".

Eimear Quinn died in the Cromwell Road area in the south of the city on Monday.

It is understood the student was from Londonderry and attended Ulster University.

The young woman, whose death is not being treated as suspicious, is the second student to die suddenly in recent days.

The body of Niall Laverty, who was 19 years old, was discovered inside a house on Palestine Street last week.

The teenager, who was a talented Gaelic footballer and hailed from just outside Downpatrick, had been due to start a degree course in sports studies at Ulster University's Jordanstown campus.

His funeral took place at the weekend.

Within hours of the second death emerging, Ms Quinn's boyfriend Kielan Gillespie posted a moving tribute on social media along with an image of them together on Twitter.

"Words can't describe how devastated I am to have lost this beautiful angel," he said.

"I'm just so sorry I wasn't able help you with whatever was troubling you. I love you forever and always."

The post has since received dozens of messages of condolences from well-wishers.

The deaths of both students within two weeks of each other has raised concerns that more needs to be done to safeguard students' wellbeing.

Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir - who yesterday described Ms Quinn's death as a "terrible tragedy and an unspeakable loss for her family and friends" - stressed the issue requires urgent action.

"This second death of a student in the Holyland in two weeks should spur all those with a duty of care to our student population to look again at how they are fulfilling their responsibilities," he said.

"I have spent much time in the Holyland and Lower Ormeau over the past 10 days as students return to the area and am convinced much more must be done to ensure the wellbeing of our student body."

Mr O Muilleoir continued: "Last week, after meeting Queen's University to discuss the challenges surrounding the return of students, I urged the two big universities to convene an emergency forum on this issue. I reiterate that call today."

In response, Ulster University - which confirmed both students attended the institution - offered its condolences to the Quinn and Laverty families.

"We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of two of our students and extend our sympathies to the students' families and friends," said a spokesperson.

"We would ask that the privacy of family and fellow students is respected at this difficult time."

In a separate joint statement, Ulster and Queen's outlined the various resources and services available to their respective student bodies to "enhance and maintain their health and wellbeing".

"Both universities have been working with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust on a pilot project to enhance the accessibility of mental health services for students living in Belfast," they said.

The two institutions also acknowledged that moving to university is an "exciting time" for young people but can be a "big change for many". The statement added: "We encourage our students at this time to look after themselves and each other.

"Information on support services available can be found on both universities' student wellbeing and Students' Union websites."

Ulster University said it has a number of programmes to guide students throughout their educational experience, including its 'Here for You' scheme.

It provides advice and support to students on general and mental wellbeing, as well as issues like finances, counselling and disabilities.

The university also has wellbeing advisors available at each campus as well as a "dedicated multi-disciplinary student wellbeing team".

This team works in partnership with statutory bodies for students who require additional specialist care, including interventions for those with mental health difficulties.

In addition, counselling support can also be availed of by students either on or off campus.

Meanwhile, Queen's University has said runs a daily drop-in facility which aims to help students avail of relevant support services required.

The institution also outlined that a student wellbeing assessment manager is on hand to work with "higher-risk students who have immediate mental health issues", as well as provide counselling interventions and pastoral support.

Those affected by stress, anxiety, bullying or academic difficulties can participate in coaching and one-on-one intervention sessions or contact the Queen's Counselling Service phone line, which operates 24/7 for all part-time and full-time students.

Further information about Ulster University's Student Wellbeing hub can be found by calling 028 9536 7000, emailing studentwellbeing@ulster.ac.uk or visiting www.ulster.ac.uk/wellbeing

Queen's counselling support free-phone helpline, which operates 24 hours a day, can be contacted by phoning 0808 800 0016 or emailiing qubstudents@inspirewellbeing.org

The Samaritans can also be contacted free on 116123 and Lifeline is on 080 8808 8000.

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