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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 23:21 GMT
Colleagues mourn murdered postman
Postal workers, friends and family attended the funeral
Postal workers, friends and family attended the funeral
Thousands of mourners have attended the funeral of Danny McColgan, a Catholic postman murdered by loyalist paramilitaries.

Colleagues of the 20-year-old lined the streets around his mother's home in the Whitewell area of north Belfast.

Meanwhile, the police have released without charge Newtownabbey councillor Tommy Kirkham who was being questioned about the murder. Another man is still in custody.

Mr Kirkham - a member of the loyalist Ulster Democratic Party, which was linked to the UDA before it was dissolved at the end of last year, - was released on Tuesday evening.

He was a member of the talks team which was involved in discussions with the government following the 1994 loyalist paramilitary ceasefires.

Daniel McColgan
Daniel McColgan: Postman was shot as he arrived for work
Earlier on Tuesday, a cortege of Mr McColgan's family and friends made its way to St Mary's Star of the Sea Church on the Shore Road.

Mr McColgan and his girlfriend Lindsey had recently baptised their one-year-old daughter Bethany at the church.

During the funeral, Bishop Patrick Walsh said his murder was a violation of the three basic rights which must be upheld in any civilised society - the right to work, the right to profess one's religion and the right to life.

Mr McColgan had worked as a DJ in the evening.

Bishop Walsh said Danny McColgan was "a hard-working young man, earning an honest living, serving the entire community as a postal worker".

He said Mr McColgan was "gunned down by gunmen who were in effect saying: you have no right to be working as a postal worker, you have no right to be working here at this office because you are a Catholic".

The bishop said a "dark pall" had fallen over north Belfast, which was at its darkest with Danny's murder.

He said everyone - politicians, community workers and church leaders - must play a part in lifting that pall.

At the end of the mass, Mr McColgan's girlfriend made her own farewell to him in which she said: "May you rest in peace knowing that we truly loved and cared for you."

Politicians from across the political spectrum, Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan and ministers from every denomination also attended the funeral.

Shot dead

Mr McColgan was buried in Carnmoney Cemetery in County Antrim.

He was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Association as he arrived for work at a sorting depot in the Rathcoole area, on the outskirts of north Belfast, early on Saturday morning.

The Red Hand Defenders issued a statement saying all Catholic postal workers were considered "legitimate targets" after the murder.

However, the UDA later said it distanced itself from the threats, even though it admitted Mr McColgan's murder.

The threats to postal workers followed similar threats made to teachers and workers at Catholic schools in north Belfast on Friday.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), has called for a general half-day stoppage on Friday in protest at continuing attacks on workers.

Many workers across the province also observed a two-minute silence at midday on Tuesday to remember Mr McColgan and all other workers killed during the Troubles.

Rallies are due to be held around the province - the largest at Belfast City Hall on Friday afternoon.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Mervyn Jess reports:
"As Danny McColgan's family brought his coffin from his home thousands of his colleagues formed a guard of honour"
BBC NI's Mandy McAuley reports from the funeral:
"More than 2,000 postal workers attended the funeral of their colleague - angry, distressed and very frightened"
See also:

14 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Security call after postman murder
14 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
UDA godfathers 'directing murders'
12 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
UDA admits postal worker's killing
12 Jan 02 | Northern Ireland
Ahern demands action over killing
12 Jan 02 | Education
Dissidents threaten Catholic teachers
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