Belfast Telegraph

McElkerney funeral priest 'surprised' at scale of paramilitary trappings

By David Young

The priest who officiated at Martin McElkerney's funeral said he had been "surprised" by the scale of the paramilitary presence.

Fr Gary Donegan also expressed concern at shots fired outside the wake house earlier in the week.

He said: "I was surprised at the fact that there was the volley of shots in the vicinity of the wake house. I thought those days were past.

"I did expect, obviously, because of his background, that there would be some sort of colour party, some kind of showing of that nature.

"I have to say I was a bit surprised to see so many, and I was surprised to see them with the scarves over their faces."

The priest said that the paramilitary trappings were not permitted inside the church itself.

"At our insistence the only thing adorning the coffin in the church was the pall, the baptismal flag," he added.

Fr Donegan also revealed that he had met paramilitary representatives in the past to explain to them what was permissible at Catholic funerals.

He added: "A number of years ago, I met with the wider republican family and basically said, 'There's an issue around the use of the national flag, there's an issue around paramilitary trappings such as berets and gloves and all that kind of stuff'.

"If people are looking for a Catholic funeral, then it goes by the rites of the Catholic Church."

Issue: Fr Gary Donegan
Issue: Fr Gary Donegan

Turning to the three people - two local children and a young soldier - who died at McElkerney's hands, the priest said that all deaths were tragic.

"Martin McElkerney was fully aware of the consequences of his life - not just for others, but also for his family," he added.

"The tragedy of those children is horrific - but all life is sacred. A British soldier died. Is he any less than the children?

The funeral of Martin McElkerney.
The funeral of Martin McElkerney.
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Masked men followed the body of Martin McElkerney.
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral procession of Martin McElkerney.
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of INLA man Martin McElkerney takes place in Divis, west Belfast on May 23rd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

"Martin McElkerney's mother - who has lost a son through suicide - is her pain any less than the mothers of those children, or the mother of that soldier?

"We are always looking through a prism of some kind, and the common thing here was the pain of loss. For any person to die as the result of an explosion - whether child or adult, Irish or British, Catholic or Protestant, is tragic. And for someone to feel that they have to take their own life, that too is tragic."

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