Hundreds turn out for removal of Government minister
More than an hour before the removal of Minister of State Shane McEntee was due to begin last night, hundreds of people had already gathered at the church in Nobber, Co Meath.
By the time the funeral cortege arrived, there were as many people outside St John the Baptist Church as there were inside.
Mr McEntee (56), a Fine Gael TD for Meath East, was Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture. He was found dead on Friday after taking his own life.
Fr Séamus Houlihan, parish priest at Nobber, told the congregation Mr McEntee had died on the shortest day of the year. “The darkness had almost overcome the world. And God knows, because he didn’t know, and neither did the rest of us, what darkness or what issues were working inside him.”
No one could say they had never felt this darkness “because if you are honest, you have, at different times, maybe on rare occasions, and for others, many an occasion.
“We can only hope and pray that now Shane will be able to wrap his arms around each one he loves so much and say to each one of them: ‘I haven’t left you. I’m still with you. I’m still the light of your life,’” he said.
The mourners were led by Mr McEntee’s wife, Kathleen, and children Aoife, Vincent, Helen and Sally. They were joined by his mother, Madge, brothers Alan, Gerard, Larry, Jimmy, Tony and Andrew and sister, Mary. His father, Tony, died in March, 2011.
It was said in recent days Mr McEntee’s passions were Fine Gael, farming and football and friends and colleagues from all three spheres were at his removal.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who had visited the McEntee family home on Friday night, will attend today’s funeral but was represented by his aide-de-camp, Comdt Michael Treacy last night. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney attended, as did Department of Agriculture assistant secretaries general Martin Heraghty, Tony Burke and Philip Carroll. Mr McEntee’s private secretary, Paul McNally, and adviser Liam Cahill were there.
Minister for Health James Reilly, Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton attended as did John Bruton, whose seat was taken by Mr McEntee when he was appointed EU ambassador to Washington. Mr McEntee’s neighbour and friend Fine Gael MEP Maireád McGuinness was in attendance. Other current and past politicians who paid their respects included Thomas Byrne, Jack Wall, Emmet Stagg, Catherine Murphy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, senators Eamonn Coghlan and Paul Coghlan, Ruairí O’Hanlon, Dermot Ahern, Martin Heydon, Paul Kehoe, Mick Wallace, Maureen O’Sullivan, Seán Kelly and John O’Mahony. Many IFA representatives including its president John Bryan were in attendance, as was ICMSA president John Comer, Teagasc director Prof Gerry Boyle, GAA director general Paraic Duffy and John Rogers SC.
The funeral Mass will take place at 11am today followed by burial at Nobber cemetery.