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Innocent victim of cruel senseless act; MOURNERS HEAR OF KINDNESS AS HIT-AND-RUN MARTIN BURIED.

Byline: GEORGE JACKSON

MANCHESTER United boss Alex Ferguson sent a letter of condolence to the funeral yesterday of marathon runner Martin Gallagher.

Celtic player and former Derry City man Paddy McCourt also sent a letter of sympathy to the family of 24-year-old Martin who was killed in a hit-and-run crash.

The Man United fan was knocked down as he walked along Derry's Racecourse Road, close to his Sandale Park home, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He was returning from the annual Halloween fancy dress parade in the city centre and was dressed in a Buzz Lightyear costume.

Hundreds of mourners packed St Brigid's Church in Derry yesterday for the Requiem Mass.

Many of the mourners were from running clubs in Derry and members of Martin's Foyle Valley Club formed a guard of honour outside the church. And his father Martin wore his son's Manchester United away top for the funeral.

Fr Dermot Harkin described Martin as a good, kind and shy man who would be sadly missed by his adoring family and friends. He added: "Martin was the innocent victim of a cruel and senseless act and those responsible - and I'm sure they are heartily sorry for what they have done - have plunged, not just a parish, but a town into mourning and sadness, a family and friends into grief and they have left a mother and father and sisters and brothers bereft and inconsolable.

"A car in the wrong circumstances is a deadly and lethal weapon. But I am sure of this, that even as I speak today, Martin, from where he is now, with God and with his forgiving nature, is reaching out to those persons who violated his person and robbed him of his life.

"I hope and pray that they will sincerely repent for what they did and dedicate the rest of their lives to be like Martin was - a life-giver not a life-taker."

"I am sure that they didn't set out to harm anybody and that their poor families are shocked. God help them.

"Martin's family can hold their heads high when they think about him because he did so much good and in the midst of their grief and pain they have showed us all impressive dignity and courage."

CAPTION(S):

CHAMPION Martin's cortege MARATHON MAN Martin Gallagher MISSED Elizabeth & Martin Gallagher Snr carry their son's coffin in Derry yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 5, 2009
Words:398
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