The murder of Tony Dempsey, and the circumstances after it, had “stunned” his family and friends and left them in “a nightmare you would hope to wake up from,” the priest celebrating the 28-year-old Dubliner’s funeral Mass has said.
Fr Brian Lawless told mourners the funeral was a “very difficult” occasion for all of Mr Dempsey’s family, loved ones and friends who had gathered in St Bernadette’s Church, Crumlin, for the service on Monday.
The dead man’s body was found in a flat in Kevin Barry House, Coleraine Street in Dublin’s north inner city two weeks ago. He had been fatally assaulted and gardaí believe his remains lay inside the property, which was being used as a drug den, for at least week before the alarm was raised.
The murder investigation into the killing of Mr Dempsey, who had struggled with addiction and had spent several periods in prison, is continuing. While no arrests have been made, gardaí have spoken to a large number of people who knew him and who were in the flat where he died around the time of the murder.
A vulnerable tenant had been placed into the flat over 18-months-ago by the Peter McVerry Trust, which provides housing and other services to its mainly homeless clients. However, the tenant had lost control of the property and it was being used by a large number of people who gathered there to drink and take drugs.
Fr Lawless said Mr Dempsey’s funeral had “an air of unreality about it” because his family and friends could not “really believe or even comprehend” what had happened to him. “The terrible and tragic nature of Tony’s death leaves us stunned by grief. It raises within us questions that are almost impossible to answer and challenge the very meaning and purpose of our lives.”
The manner of the death of the father of one had “stunned the whole community” and others “throughout the city and around the country” as people were “deeply upset and united” with Mr Dempsey’s family in their grief, Fr Lawless added.
He described Mr Dempsey, whom he knew, as a “bright and bubbly person who was always there for anyone who was in need”. He added that “on the outside he may have portrayed a hard exterior” but he also had “a soft side and, above all, he loved his family”.
The “recent tragic death of his sister Chloe only a short time ago” had “deeply affected” Mr Dempsey as they were “a very close brother and sister”. The passing of his mother, Christine, a short time later was another “devastating blow”.
“Throughout his life, which wasn’t always easy, it seemed to me it was two steps back and one step forward and that’s what family and friends were so important to him and he remained positive with a wonderful dry sense of humour. He had a glint in his eye that would light up a room.”
Mr Dempsey, who was originally from New Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8, is survived by his father Michael, sisters Queenie, Kendall, Ariyah-Rae and brothers Eddie and Ross.
The dead man’s remains were taken by horse-drawn carriage from the Crumlin church after 11am Mass for burial at Mount Jerome Cemetery. Many of the mourners wore T-shirts bearing a photograph of the dead man and the words “Tony 28 Forever”. A group of young men wore black suits and black shirts with red ties while many other mourners also wore red ribbons.
As well as the murder investigation into Mr Dempsey’s killing, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive is carrying out a review into his death. Furthermore, the Peter McVerry Trust was also carrying out an investigation. The trust’s staff had visited the flat just days before Mr Dempsey’s remains were eventually discovered and did not realise he was dead inside the property.