Saturday 17 August 2019

Political campaigner Noel Whelan's love for his family remembered

Miriam O'Callagan, right, and husband Steve Carson offer condolences to Noel's wife Sineád and son Séamus after funeral mass. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Miriam O'Callagan, right, and husband Steve Carson offer condolences to Noel's wife Sineád and son Séamus after funeral mass. Picture: Caroline Quinn
The funeral procession arriving at the church. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Noel Whelan. Photo: Collins
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Barrister and political commentator Noel Whelan's passion for fairness and the love he shared with his family were remembered at his funeral Mass yesterday.

President Michael D Higgins was among those who paid their respects at the Church of the Holy Name in Ranelagh, south Dublin, to the campaigner, writer and political adviser.

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Mr Whelan's wife Sinead McSweeney said she and the couple's young son Seamus will remember him as a man filled with love.

As Ms McSweeney reflected on her husband's sense of fun, she said he would have looked down on the church and joked "that's some guest list" because of the crowds who came to pay their final respects. Each pew was stacked with people from campaigns he had championed and causes he fought.

"Seamus and I have never doubted the depth and strength of Noel's love for us," Ms McSweeney told the congregation. "We have a treasure trove of memories and stories that will sustain us in the future."

Mr Whelan died last Wednesday, aged 50, after a short illness. He was heavily involved in politics and campaigned in the referendums on marriage equality and the Eighth Amendment. He was a former adviser to Fianna Fail and practised as a barrister for 19 years before becoming a senior counsel last year.

Among those paying their respects were Ministers Katherine Zappone and Josepha Madigan, Attorney General Seamus Woulfe, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and broadcasters Anne Doyle, Miriam O'Callaghan and David McCullagh. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented by his aide-de-camp.

Chief celebrant Fr Derek Smyth remembered meeting Mr Whelan in college, and spoke of his passion for volunteering and helping others.

"Noel's whole life was about crossing over and helping other parts of our lives."

Mr Whelan was buried at Ballycullane Cemetery, New Ross, in his native Co Wexford.

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