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Paul Ireland's family praises charity for bringing body from Canada to Belfast

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Funeral: Paul Ireland

Funeral: Paul Ireland

Funeral: Paul Ireland

The family of a Northern Ireland man who died in Canada have thanked a charity for its "truly amazing" help in bringing his remains home.

Paul Ireland died suddenly in Ontario on August 15, but it took 12 days for his body to be flown back home to Belfast.

His grieving family, including parents Stephen and Janice, brother Andrew and sister Louise, have thanked the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust for its help in returning his remains on Monday.

Newry man Colin Bell established the charity in 2013 in memory of son Kevin, who died when he was hit by a car in New York.

Over the past five years the charity has assisted the families of nearly 500 individuals who died overseas, often suddenly or in tragic circumstances.

In a Facebook post Louise Ireland said yesterday that the trust had shown her grieving family "a kindness, an understanding and help that can never be underestimated".

She added: "After 12 very long days Paul is home. I would not be able to write that sentence if it wasn't for the help of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

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"They have allowed us the space and time to come to terms with Paul's passing, and have taken complete control of bringing him back to us."

Paul moved to Ontario in 2009 on a one-year internship at Redwood Park Church in Thunder Bay but decided to stay on to work with a youth ministry team. Eight years later, after missions to Uganda and Peru, and a spell with the Church Group in Toronto, his work life took him back to Thunder Bay, this time as a police officer.

In her tribute, Louise described her brother as "compassionate" and someone whose "first thought was always of others".

She said: "He spent his life helping people in any way he could. You can see this very clearly in Paul's career path: nurse, counsellor, pastor, police officer. He volunteered in many different youth organisations and overseas ministry teams but he was a listening ear for anyone who needed to talk, at any time of the day or night.

"I am in no doubt that there are many lives that Paul not only had a huge impact on, but there are many lives he also saved."

The family have set up a My Donate page in Paul's memory and to raise money for the trust. Louise said the charity had given the family "much more than the practical side of bringing Paul home".

She added: "They have given us time together as a family to come to terms with losing Paul, time which otherwise would have been spent on separate computers and phones searching for information and trying to reach authorities in a different time zone, filling out relentless forms and being at a loss on how to get him home.

"They have given us time with the many people who have come to offer support to our family in any way they can, time to share stories of Paul's life and remind us of just how many lives he had an impact on.

"We will never be able to thank them properly or repay their kindness, but in Paul's honour, and with your support, we are determined to pay that kindness forward to others who will unfortunately find themselves in the same position as our family."

Paul's funeral service takes place tomorrow at Eglinton Presbyterian Church, Ballysillan Road, Belfast, at 10.45am, followed by committal in Roselawn Crematorium at 1pm.

  • To donate to the family's appeal for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/paulireland

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