THE father of a Glengormley man who drowned in the River Lagan has vowed to continue to campaign for changes in attitudes to alcohol and safety improvements around Belfast’s shoreline after his son’s body was located at the weekend.
Joby Murphy’s remains were found in Belfast harbour on Saturday afternoon following an extensive search operation.
His funeral took place on Thursday, March 1 at Holy Family Church, Limestone Road, followed by burial in Carnmoney Cemetery.
It is just over a month since the 20-year-old was last seen alive struggling to climb aboard an anchored boat in Belfast harbour after he fell into the icy water from the Lagan Weir footbridge.
Joby had been out with friends at a Snow Patrol concert and had been drinking in a nearby nightclub before the accident. His family maintained a vigil at the waterside as numerous search teams combed the riverbed for the missing Elmfield man’s body.
On Saturday (February 25) at around 1.30pm a specialist rescue team, that had travelled up from Mallow in County Cork, pulled Joby’s remains from the Albert Wharf in Belfast harbour.
And on Monday evening, February 27, Joby returned home.
“I couldn’t believe it when they told me they found him,” his father, Joe said. “It was a long time since I smiled, but I was all smiles that day. We just wanted him home - just to be able to bury him - the thought of never finding him was just unbearable.
“Joby was such a character and it’s such a waste of life, all because of the drink.”
Since his son went missing, Joe has been campaigning for better safety measures on the Lagan footbridge and a change in attitudes to drinking.
The family have established a Joby Murphy Fund to raise £30,000 for specialist sonar equipment for use in Belfast.
This Sunday, March 4, cross-community football teams Limestone United and Glengormley-based World United will play a charity fundraiser in Joby’s honour at Cliftonville Football Club’s Solitude ground.
Joe, who is hoping to get a few minutes on the pitch added: “It’s all we can do to stop something like this happening again.
“There will be good things to come from this tragedy.”
Donations to the fund can be made at the Ulster Bank in Glengormley.
More coverage in this week’s Times...