MORE than 3,000 people attended the funeral of Junior Agriculture Minister Shane McEntee in Nobber, Co Meath, today.
The 56-year old FineGael politician took his own life last Friday,
In an emotional speech from the altar, Mr McEntee's brother Gerry launched an attack on what he described as the "faceless cowards" who had sent abusive messages and emails to the Meath East TD in recent weeks.
The former Meath footballer said that the last four weeks had been "a harrowing time for Shane", adding, "Shame on you people, you faceless cowards who sent him horrible messages on the website and no texts. Shame on you," he said to applause from the congregation in St John the Baptist Church.
Among the mourners were President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina, and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his wife Fionnuala, and many politicians from every party, including Ministers Michael Noonan, James Reilly, Simon Coveney, Brendan Howlin and Phil Hogan, also Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
The Taoiseach delivered a graveside eulogy to his party colleague and friend, describing him as "a gentleman, a patriot, the quintessential Meath man".
Mr Kenny spoke of how the junior minister had liked to help people. "His reward was never column-inches, never public praise, not even Number One in the ballot-box, it was a problem solved, a life saved, a future secured."
He added that was a time "to remember Shane and all of those others, all of those tragic others who in one dread moment wanted nothing more from their life than to leave it - for the next 12 days, for the next 12 months and beyond, let these feature high up on our national preoccupations to create an Ireland that chooses light over dark, hope over despair, reflection over reaction."
Shane McEntee's son Vincent also spoke movingly about his father during the funeral mass. "Every eight-year old boy thinks that their dad is ten-feet tall," he said, adding "he was the best thing ever - I followed him around everywhere".
The funeral mass was celebrated by local parish priest Fr Seamus Houlihan, with 13 priests from neighbouring parishes also in attendance.
The chief mourners were his wife Kathleen, his children Aoife, Vincent, Helen and Sally and his mother Madge.
After the mass his coffin travelled slowly through the village past two guards-of-honour consisting of members of various county GAA clubs and also members of the Irish Farmers Association. Mr McEntee was buried alongside his father Tony who died in 2011.