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Showbiz figure Barry O'Kane dies at 47

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Barry O'Kane

Barry O'Kane

Barry O'Kane

A businessman who was at the forefront of Northern Ireland's entertainment scene and organised Belfast's first-ever showbiz awards ceremonies has died.

Barry O'Kane (47), was discovered in the bathroom of his Crumlin home yesterday morning. It is believed he died of a heart attack.

Mr O'Kane, who ran the Crumlin News and had only recently launched the Co Antrim News, is survived by his wife Jennifer and three children, Aine, Bronagh and Barry Billy.

Mr O'Kane was former editor of the entertainment magazine Big Buzz and in 2000, along with his wife, launched the Big Buzz awards in Belfast, that attracted many celebrities.

The awards ran for nine years and among the stars who attended were Boyzone, Take That's Mark Owen, and soap stars from Coronation Street and EastEnders.

The north Belfast man was also heavily involved in charity work and organised fundraising events for Race Against Multiple Sclerosis, Shine a Light and Starlight.

Paying tribute to Mr O'Kane, close friend and broadcaster Robin Elliott said: “Barry was in the best form he's ever been in recently and his death has come as such a great shock to all of us who knew him. He was a great character and family man and was so important to entertainment here in Northern Ireland.”

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