strong words  | 

Priest tells funeral of criminal James Whelan 'there is nothing blingy about death'

"The facts are that a young man has been wasted by the order of some miserable gangster."

13/04/2022 The funeral of James Whelan (Whela) at River Mount Parish, Finglas this morning.

Conor Feehan

A Finglas parish priest saying the funeral mass of the year's first gangland murder victim has slammed drug traffickers as a "vicious deadly virus on our young people."

Father-of-one James ‘Whela’ Whelan (29) was gunned down on Deanstown Avenue last Sunday.

Gardaí believe his murder is connected to a feud between rival gangs.

At Requiem Mass in Oliver Plunkett church in Finglas today, Fr Seamus Aherne said he wished the sanctions imposed against the Kinahan cartel could extend across “the whole plethora of drug suppliers everywhere”.

“I don’t care what clan they belong to or who they are. They are a vicious deadly virus on our young people.

“Their money is sick and poisonous. They are grotesque and they poison our lovely world and our wonderful people.

“The bullies behind this savagery on James are sick, sad and stupid. They are flawed human beings. They devalue humanity. There is no justification. Gunslingers are cowards. There can be no tolerance for such corruption and viciousness,” he added.

The funeral cortege arrived at the church to the noise of motorbike engines being revved to their limits, a noise that continued outside throughout the mass.

James Whelan

Symbols brought to the altar were a motorbike helmet, a dumbbell, Whelan’s dog's lead, a jumper, aftershave, and a photo of Whelan with his son Parker (7).

He is survived by his mother Sonya, fathers James and David, brother Sean, sister Tori, partner Jean, son Parker, grandparents and wide circle of relatives and friends.

During his homily, Fr Ahearne expressed his frustration at what appears to be a continuing cycle of death over his 25 years in the Rivermount parish.

“The people in our community are wonderful. The banter, the fun, the camaraderie, the kindness, the humour. I can't bear to see anything or anyone hurting our people.

"But I have also been involved in too many funerals of young people in this place. Too many murders. The sheer awfulness of this is overwhelming.

"I have exhausted all words that could express the anger, the pain, the hurt, the wrongness of this. I want to scream. I do,” he said.

The funeral of James Whelan (Whela) at River Mount Parish, Finglas this morning.

“I then sometimes see the great big gaisce, a show put on for a funeral. There is a great send-off and the young people come together. But here is the fact. The person is in a box. Is dead. Won't live a new life. Won't grow old. He won’t rear a family. Won't contribute to society. Won't add to the flavour and laughter of a community. No. Death is death. There is nothing ever glamorous or blingy about death.

“Young James is in his coffin. He looks like a teenager. A child really. I know he is nearly 30. But this is how he looks. Nothing can add glamour to this occasion.

“Some of you have had your own rituals. A shrine. Flowers. Messages. Bikes. Whatever. The facts are that a young man has been wasted by the order of some miserable gangster. A life has been destroyed. No one has the right ever to take a life,” he added.

Fr Ahearne told how James Whelan’s mother Sonya recalled to him her thoughts about her son.

“She craves quietness, dignity, and respect around her child. She is angry. She is screaming - even at God.

“She doesn't want all the noise. Here is how she recalls life with James. He was a torment. The bane of her life. She spent all her years worrying about him and what he was doing and with whom he was involved. What had he done now? Where was he? Those thoughts rang in her head every day of his life. Her praying was deep and rich.

“He had a big heart. He was a terror. He was soft. He would give anything to anyone and liked the image of being a Robin Hood type of character,” he said, adding that a young Whelan brought every kind of stray into the house, even a horse one time.

“He was meticulous about his food, about his clothes, about his shampoo, about his aftershave. He loved his bikes, his cars, his dog, and of course his clothes. Money. Designer was made for him. He loved Jean. He loved Parker. But he did mix with strange people and got caught up in bad things,” he said.

Bringing the Russian invasion of Ukraine into the homily, Fr Ahearne said no bully had the right to take over a country and to destroy life and homes. There was no noble cause in creating a refugee crisis for millions.

“It is interesting that much of the world has united with sanctions against the elite of Russia and against the oligarchs. And now we hear that sanctions have been imposed against the Kinahan cartel. Now I wish all such sanctions could extend across the whole plethora of suppliers everywhere. I don’t care what clan they belong to or who they are. They are a vicious deadly virus on our young people.

"This is what has happened here on the 3rd of April. I have spent much of my life trying to help parents and families cope with the devastation of drugs and alcohol. The horrible drawl of the druggie. The wasted faces. The empty lives. Everyone is a victim. The whole of society is criminalised by their dependence. Who creates that world? Dirty money. Rotten designer goods. It is all very sick,” he said.

At the end of the mass, James’s father James urged that his son’s death be the end of it, and that there be no more, for the sake of all the young people and for young Parker.

Whelan’s sister-in-law Vennesa also spoke, telling stories of his life and his love for his family.

After the funeral, friends of Whelan performed burnouts and wheelies on scrambler and sports motorbikes outside the church, shredding their rear tyres and leaving clouds of smoke and black marks on the ground.

The horse-drawn carriage bearing his casket then proceeded to Dardistown Cemetery for burial.

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