Belfast Telegraph

Priest slams evil of drugs at funeral of 'beautiful girl Emma Doogan who battled demons'

By Leona O'Neill

Mourners at the funeral of a Co Tyrone teenager who passed away suddenly have heard how drugs are tearing lives and families apart.

Emma Doogan (19) was found dead in her flat near Omagh at the weekend. Yesterday mourners were urged to pray for "those struggling with substance abuse, like Emma did".

More than 100 people attended the emotional service at Christ the King Church in Omagh.

Emma's mother Susan and her sister Rebecca sat in the front row of the church surrounded by family members.

A picture of Emma laughing beside a 'Minions' cake was placed on her coffin during the ceremony.

Parish priest Father Kevin McElhennon described Emma as "a beautiful girl who battled with demons".

"Emma was born a beautiful girl 19 years ago and despite the struggles of life she remained a beautiful girl for all the short years of her life," he said.

Emma died suddenly at Meelmore Drive in the town on Saturday afternoon.

Police investigating her death arrested and charged her 24-year-old boyfriend with a number of drug-related offences.

Matthew Taylor, of Meelmore Drive in Omagh, appeared in court in Enniskillen facing drugs charges and was refused bail.

As Emma's coffin was put into the hearse outside the church her heartbroken sibling, clutching a framed picture of the two sisters together, reached out and placed a kiss on the coffin.

Father McElhennon also spoke of the impact that substance abuse had on people's lives.

"The abuse of drugs and drink is a rejection of life," he said.

"And anyone who peddles them or supplies them are destroyers of life.

"They disfigure and make ugly what is beautiful, they bring us low and make us less than we are capable of and less than all we are called to be.

"They tear lives and families apart. They blight our community. But they (addicts) are not to be demonised, for they too need help to be released from the death-grip that has taken hold of them."

Mourners heard that Emma had a fascination with unicorns. Several young people in the congregation wore unicorn T-shirts in her honour.

"In legend the unicorn is captivating in its beauty, a magical being," Fr McElhennon said.

"The unicorn also has spiritual symbolism, being the most magical of all animals, it can move between the visible and the invisible world easily.

"It is a symbol that the only world that exists is not just the world we have at hand that we touch and see and taste and smell.

"But, unicorns or no unicorns, we have to live in the real world and we cannot escape into a fantasy land or a make believe life."

Following the service Emma's body was taken to Cavan for cremation.

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