The killing of a 31-year-old football enthusiast has been described as a “uniquely shocking” event in the career of the priest who will now conduct his funeral.
The funeral of north Belfast man Paul McCready, father to two young boys, will be held at 11am on Friday in the same north Belfast chapel where he had been baptised.
He died following what police have described as an “altercation” in Belfast’s Northern Whig bar in the early hours of Sunday, which spilled out on to the street.
The PSNI are treating the death as murder.
It is understood plans are afoot to form a guard of honour at the chapel, manned by members of two youth squads from north Belfast club Newington FC where he had coached.
The idea is for youngsters from the club to dress in black football socks and shirts, plus black drill tops for their training, and flank the coffin as it enters Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, on Deanby Gardens, off the city’s Oldpark Road.
After the requiem mass, his body will be buried in Carnmoney cemetery, just to the north of Belfast.
The service will be conducted by Father Peter Carlin.
He described the circumstances of his death as “abominable”.
Asked if he could think of another case like this one in his 26-year career as a priest, the 52-year-old cleric told the News Letter: “I think this one is kind of uniquely shocking; which isn’t in any way to diminish other funerals I’ve been involved in.
“It’s just the sense of a relatively young man, full of promise, full of vigour, full of passion, and a loving father – a dedicated and faithful partner ... It’s the suddenness of the whole thing; of a life being turned around [in the] circumstances of a legitimate, enjoyable, maybe much-anticipated night out.”
He added: “Everyone is bewildered. It’s the old conundrum of ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’
“We’re not going to come to a rational explanation.”
As well as coaching at Newington (an Irish League club which plays two divisions down from the premiership), Mr McCready also formerly played for the team, and also captained Cliftonville Olympic (the reserve squad for high-flying club Cliftonville).
He was a civil servant, and hailed from the Cliftonville/Oldpark area of the city.
At least 20 people have now been interviewed about the fatal incident at the weekend, and one man (aged 30) has been questioned and released.
It is thought that some bystanders filmed the incident on their mobile phones.
A possible motive and exact circumstances of his death – including his injuries – have not been made clear publicly.