No one has the right to act as "judge, jury and executioner" in a civilised society, mourners were told on Thursday at the north Belfast funeral of Michael McGibbon, murdered by dissident republicans last Friday night.
The 33-year-old taxi driver died following a so-called punishment shooting in Ardoyne. He bled to death after one of the shots severed an artery in his leg.
A group known as the “New IRA” said it was responsible. It said it had not intended to kill him.
More than 800 people attended the funeral in the Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne, where the chief mourners were his wife Joanne, a nurse who tried to save his life after he was shot, and her four children.
On Thursday of last week a number of dissidents had called to Mr McGibbon’s home, but he refused to go with them.
He reported the threat to the PSNI, but subsequently had second thoughts and agreed to meet the dissident republicans at 10pm on Friday night.
According to Holy Cross priest Fr Gary Donegan, he believed he would be able to persuade them "he was not guilty of anything". He was shot nonetheless.
At his funeral Mass on Thursday, the parish priest of Holy Cross Church Fr Eugene McCarthy described Mr McGibbon as a “good family man” and spoke of how his killers shot him within the “shadow of this historic church”.
“No human being has the right to act as judge, jury and executioner and thus deprive another human being of his God-given life,” said Fr McCarthy.
He called for an end to the scourge of paramilitary attacks and said those responsible for the “violence and mayhem” must see the error of their ways. He said the murder was another stumbling block on the “road to lasting peace and reconciliation”.
Before the funeral Mass, Joanne McGibbon and her four children, Seana, Shea, Michaela and Corry Leigh, knelt by his coffin. Flowers around the coffin spelt out “Husband”, “Daddy”, “Brother”, “Son”.
At a vigil in Ardoyne on Tuesday night, Ms McGibbon said the dissidents had no right to act as judge and jury. “If we all stay strong we can stop these people because we are stronger than them and they can’t beat us,” she said.
Fr McCarthy told the family at the funeral Mass the “vast majority” of local people stood with them.
They stood “strong with them against those who live in the shadows and emerge from the shadows to perpetrate foul deeds which deprived a wife of her husband, children of their daddy, a father of his son and siblings of a brother”.
Fr McCarthy said Mr McGibbon “by his own admission wasn’t perfect”, and had “struggles” in his life.
“But let’s put it very clearly - he didn’t deserve to die in the manner that all of that happened to him.”