Tuesday 20 February 2018

Priest heckled over anti-drugs sermon during gun victim Darragh Nugent's funeral 'has no regrets'

Father David Halpin
Father David Halpin

Gavin White

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

Mourners at the funeral of Darragh Nugent - gunned down as 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.

Darragh Nugent was shot dead
Darragh Nugent was shot dead

Speaking 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".

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

He was well known to gardaí and detectives believe his killers were lying in wait before they pounced at 9.40pm.

During a lengthy and powerful sermon in the Church of 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," he told the congregation. "In their little mind, and I emphasise little, in their little mind, that person had become a hindrance or a problem.

"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 get-away car. But there are more."

Fr Halpin said "every person who takes drugs bears some of the responsibility".

As he spoke about Nugent's death, one mourner shouted out: "That's enough," and "this is supposed to be a celebration of Darragh's life." Another shouted "stop", a word repeated by other mourners as the sermon continued. Four of the congregation left the church in anger. However, Nugent's partner Cathy shouted for the priest to continue as "he has to do what he has to do".

Speaking to the Irish Independent later, Fr Halpin said he felt he needed to speak out.

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

Irish Independent

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