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Saturday 10 December 2016

Nationalities united in grief after death of football fanatic Toyosi

Published 05/04/2010 | 05:00

THEY held each other, united in memory of a "very peaceful and very loving" friend. Through a mixture of tears, anger, desperation, outrage and overarching sadness, some 300 people of various nationalities came together yesterday afternoon to pay tribute to the life of Toyosi 'Toy' Shittabey.

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The crowd gathered at the spot where the 15-year-old soccer fanatic died on Friday evening. He was stabbed in the chest following an altercation with two men while he was out with a group of friends.

Local community leaders organised the gathering a short distance from his home in the Mount Eustace estate in Tyrrelstown, west Dublin, and urged calm among the crowd.

"It is a tragedy for our city that such things can happen on our streets," said Rev John Stephens from the Blanchardstown Methodist Church.

"We are here today to say that our prayers and our desires are that this will never happen again to any other family in this city, that our children and our grandchildren will grow up knowing peace, security and friendship across religions and across ethnic lines."

Toy, who was one of six children, had been living in Ireland for the past 11 years and played with Shelbourne's under-15 side.

As the crowds swelled during the hour-long vigil, so too did the sense of anger among many of the males within the crowd, both young and old, which resulted in a series of heated scenes.

In one case, a number of teenagers had to be restrained by their friends as they tried to vent their anger at the loss of their friend in the brutal attack.

"The thing we need is justice. There is no cry for justice," one Nigerian man shouted at one of the community leaders.

But after the anger had abated, there was a call for calm and to remember the life of the teenager who was said to have had no interest in drinking or smoking, only football.

"The same jealous hatred that killed Jesus is still around. We will not be distracted by the actions of jealous people," said Pastor Dare Adetuberu.

Community Garda Sergeant Vincent Connolly told the crowd how President Mary McAleese had passed on her sympathy to the family of the teenager.

The board of management at Shelbourne also offered its condolences on its website.

A steady stream of people filed into the home of Bola Shittabey yesterday, to mourn the loss of one of her six children. "My son was a friendly boy to anybody," she said.

A family friend described Toy as "very quiet, very peaceful, meek in character and very loving", whose death had shattered the community.

"He was a lover of everybody. All of his friends were here to mourn with us. He was an easy-going boy and very respectful in the community. He was hard-working, very brilliant and all of his coaches loved him," she said.

Nigerian ambassador Dr Kemafo Nonyerem Chikwe said there was a good relationship between the two countries and urged solidarity.

"We will continue to have that relationship but what is important is to get to the fundamental cause of this kind of crime in order to prevent future occurrences," she said.

"So very sorry that the Ireland of the welcomes has done this to you. You came here in love and your dreams have been dashed in this awful way. Please know that our thoughts are with you this Easter Sunday and forever," a note of sympathy laid at the scene of Toy's death read.

Irish Independent

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