President among 3,000 at Shane McEntee funeral


President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were among 3,000 mourners at the funeral of Minister of State Shane McEntee  in Nobber, Co Meath today.

Mr McEntee's brother Gerry spoke at the Mass of anonymous critics of his brother in recent times. "Shame on you people, you faceless cowards who sent him horrible messages on the website and on text. Shame on you. I hope you are not proud of what you achieved . If you are, we are in a worse state than I ever thought we were in," he said.

At the graveside oration Mr Kenny said : "His reward was never the column inches, never the public praise not even the number one in the ballot box. It was a problem solved, a life saved a future secured. Goodbye Shane I shall see you further on up the road."

In his homily at St. John the Baptist Church, Nobber, Fr Michael Sheerin described the Fine Gael TD For Meath East as a “fine, decent young man , unsparing in his generosity and with his time”.

Mr McEntee was “deeply sensitive over a huge range of issues and concerns, perhaps too sensitive and with too many concerns as many now are surely thinking for his own well-being,” he said.

“If love could have kept Shane alive he would still be with us bubbling with life and laughter and tireless energy,” Fr Sheeran said.

Mr McEntee (56) was Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture. He was found dead on Friday after taking his own life.

Fr Sheerin told those gathered that the sense of irreparable loss will be he shared by Mr McEntee’s loving family, neighbours and loyal colleagues in the farming, business and political worlds for a long time.

The priest said Mr McEntee had followed in the footsteps of his late father Tony in his commitment to the broader community and constituency.

“Both there, and in the sometimes cauldron of political life, he would have gone with eyes wide open to the challenges, always daunting and sometimes impossibly,” Fr Sheerin added.

“But he could have foreseen that other cauldron in his own mind and emotions — a cauldron made worse by a recession affecting so many and so deeply. Because he cared.”

Mr Kenny, who 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.

At his removal last night 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 was last night represented by his aide-de-camp, Comdt Michael Treacy. 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.

Additional reporting PA