Belfast Telegraph

Separate funerals for tragic family

Funeral services for an unemployed man and his two young daughters who he killed before dying in a fireball are to take place separately.

John Butler's wife Una and his family said they were struggling to cope with the enormous loss after the triple murder-suicide in rural Cork.

Daughters Zoe Kate, six, and Ella Marie, two, will be laid to rest on Friday after a special Mass of the Angels in the Star of the Sea Church near their home in Ballycotton.

A separate service has been planned for Mr Butler in St Colman's Cathedral, Cobh on Saturday.

Mrs Butler issued a statement with Mr Butler's relatives thanking people for their prayers and asking for space to deal with their grief.

"It is with great sadness that Una Butler and the family of the late John Butler have brought home the bodies of John, Zoe and Ella to the family home at Ballycotton, Co Cork," the statement said.

"John, Zoe and Ella will repose together at the family home. The family have requested that the family home would remain private."

Gardai believe the girls, who were found in the living room of the family home on Tuesday morning, were suffocated. Initial examinations suggested they had been strangled.

Mr Butler is believed to have doused his car in petrol and deliberately crashed into a ditch at speed a mile from the family home. He died when the small motor was engulfed in fire.

Mrs Butler is a member of the O'Riordain family in Ballycotton, a respected fishing family involved in the business for decades. Mr Butler was originally from Cobh and moved to the village after marrying about 10 years ago. He had worked in the Irish Steel plant before it closed and had struggled to secure permanent work in the last few months.

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