herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

'I was shaking' - priest heckled as he spoke out during gang death funeral

Mourners and family members leave the church in Rowlagh after the funeral service
Mourners and family members leave the church in Rowlagh after the funeral service

A defiant parish priest has said he has no regrets despite being heckled during an impassioned sermon against crime and drugs at the funeral of a gang murder victim.

Mourners at the funeral of Darragh Nugent - gunned down as a part of a west Dublin feud - interrupted Fr David Halpin who said the murdered man had made "bad, bad decisions" that contributed to his death.

Speaking to the Herald after the mass, Fr Halpin admitted he was "shaking" during and after the speech, but said "he has had nothing but supportive messages from people".

Nugent, a father-of-three, was shot dead outside his home on Wheatfield Avenue in Clondalkin on Monday, September 11.

The victim was well known to gardai and detectives believe his killers were lying in wait for him before they pounced at 9.40pm.

Fr David Halpin was interrupted by mourners as he delivered a sermon criticising illegal drug users
Fr David Halpin was interrupted by mourners as he delivered a sermon criticising illegal drug users

Powerful

During a lengthy and powerful sermon at Nugent's funeral in the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rowlagh, yesterday, Fr Halpin said: "The truth is we are here because one person decided they wanted another person out of the way. One person made a decision that they had licence to order a hit.

"In their little mind, and I emphasise little, in their little mind that person had become a hindrance or a problem," he told the congregation.

"We are here because one person thought that they were so important that another person's life could simply be extinguished.

"There are more who share in the responsibility.

"The one who pulled the trigger, and the one who drove the getaway car. But there are more. Darragh himself made bad decisions in his life that led him to a dangerous and precarious world."

Fr Halpin went on to say that "every person who takes drugs bears some of the responsibility".

Darragh Nugent
Darragh Nugent

"Every single person who pays for illegal drugs bears some of the responsibility for us being here today," he added.

As he spoke about Nugent's death, one mourner shouted out: "That's enough. This is supposed to be a celebration of Darragh's life."

Another person shouted out "stop", a word repeated by other mourners as the sermon continued.

However, Nugent's partner Cathy shouted for the priest to continue as "he has to do what he has to do".

Four members of the congregation left the church in anger as the priest was speaking.

Speaking to the Herald after the funeral, Fr Halpin said he felt he needed to speak out.

The funeral cortege of gunned down Darragh Nugent
The funeral cortege of gunned down Darragh Nugent

"A few people have rung up concerned after it, but it was just supporting what was said," he said.

"My main message is to show that there are many people who take responsibility for this death, including people who take drugs."

During his sermon, Fr Halpin said: "There are some who through falling in with the wrong crowd or through unfortunate life circumstances get sucked into addiction. In many ways they have diminished responsibility. But there are those who live middle-class lives, who go to work every day and then at the weekend take drugs recreationally. Those who should know better, they bear a significant responsibility.

"Why are people willing to kill? Simply because there is money in it. Therefore, all who give money for drugs bear some responsibility," he added.

The brave priest said he was shaking while he was speaking on the altar, but knew he had to continue.

"I wasn't expecting such a big reaction to it but let's just say I wasn't surprised either," he said.

Gifts brought to the altar during the funeral included a Liverpool FC shirt, a Yorkie bar, a bookies' pen and notepad and a pair of boxing gloves.

Lured

The gang suspected of murdering Nugent and John Gibson are linked to the Kinahan cartel and are considered west Dublin's biggest drug suppliers.

Nugent (36), from Neilstown, was shot dead a week before his pal Gibson (28) was murdered in Tallaght last Monday as part of the same dispute.

Nugent's close friend Gibson was lured to a car park in Saggart before being shot in the head and at least three times in the body. This week, the Herald revealed that a young thug, who was closely associated with the murdered men, is now considered a prime target of the rival mobsters.

Their pal is now understood to be in fear of his life from the notorious drugs gang.

The two murders in Tallaght and Clondalkin are the subject of massive garda investigations and officers have drawn up a special policing plan to keep the third individual alive.

The gang suspected of murdering Nugent and Gibson got into conflict with jailed mobster James 'Nellie' Walsh five years ago.

The feud ignited when Nellie's rivals then murdered an innocent man, leading to gang associate, Jason 'Jay' Carroll, being shot dead in a revenge attack five days later.

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