3,000 remember McEntee at funeral
Junior minister Shane McEntee has been remembered as a deeply sensitive man driven by the desire to do the best.
President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny joined about 3,000 mourners for the funeral of the TD to celebrate his love of politics, farming and GAA football.
Fr Michael Sheerin told the packed church in his hometown of Nobber, Co Meath, that if love could have kept Mr McEntee alive, he would still be with us, bubbling with life and laughter, and tireless energy.
"In simple terms, Shane was a fine young man, unsparing in his generosity and with his time," he said in his homily. Images now familiar to us from TV screens reveal him as deeply sensitive over a huge range of issues and concerns - perhaps too sensitive and with too many concerns, as many are now surely thinking, for his own well-being.
"He felt so many things so deeply and was gifted - some would say burdened - with a sympathy and thoughtfulness for others and their many problems that might not immediately show from an outgoing, gregarious, cheerful personality."
Mr McEntee, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, was found dead on Friday. He took his own life just days after his 56th birthday. He had recently been criticised on social media websites over budget cuts to the respite care grant and comments he made about the controversial issue.
The father-of-four is survived by his wife Kathleen, children Aoife, Helen, Sally and Vincent, as well as his mother Madge and several siblings.
Fr Sheerin told the Church of St John the Baptist that the sense of irreparable loss will be shared by Mr McEntee's loving family, neighbours and loyal colleagues in the farming, business and political worlds for a long time.
Mr Kenny, who later delivered the graveside oration, former Taoiseach John Bruton, several Government ministers and senior Fine Gael figures were joined by TDs, Senators and MEPs from all political parties for the Christmas Eve service.
The Taoiseach paid tribute to his friend during an emotional graveside oration. He said: "We can see with the clarity of hindsight sometimes the battles we fight ourselves are the biggest battles of all. I wish him in the next life all the love and the kindness and the happiness he gave so many in his life."