04 April 2006

LVF victim's dad dies on aid trip

Belfast Telegraph

Father said he would see son again in heaven

By Claire Regan
04 April 2006

Michael McGoldrick, the forgiving father of a murdered Catholic man and tireless charity worker, has died suddenly while distributing aid in Moldova, it emerged today.

Tributes were paid this morning after the popular 64-year-old passed away in hospital last night after recently taking ill.

It is understood the Craigavon man fell sick while in the eastern European country, which he visited with his United Christian Aid charity every couple of months to distribute aid, and underwent surgery yesterday. He died a short time later.

Mr McGoldrick and his wife Bridie founded United Christian Aid in Craigavon in the wake of the death of their only child, 31-year-old Michael, in July 1996.

The taxi driver was murdered during the Drumcree protest by renegade members of the UVF who formed the LVF. Afterwards Mr McGoldrick said that he forgave his son's killers.

Father Martin McAlinden, the McGoldrick family's parish priest in St Anthony's Church, Moyraverty, confirmed the peace campaigner had died.

"Michael was a very humble man and well-known for his work in this parish," he said.

"He went to Moldova every six or seven weeks. Basically, people here pledged money to him every month and he went over and made sure it got to the people who needed it most.

"Sometimes he brought over money and sometimes it was things like toothpaste and clothes - anything that would help the people. He did a lot of good for children and orphanages in particular."

Fr McAlinden said the charity work became Mr McGoldrick's vocation after his son was murdered.

"He loved to go - it was his life. He often said that while he lost his son, he had gained thousands of children through his work and he loved that."

Craigavon independent councillor, Kieran Corr, who has known the McGoldrick family for a long time, said he was stunned by the news.

"My heart goes out to Bridie and the entire family. I just can't take it in," he said.

"Michael is held in very high esteem. He and Bridie are an inspiration to so many people. He really was the true meaning of being a Christian.

"He will be badly missed by both the people of Craigavon and Moldova who he worked so hard for.

"He put his life on the line by going into many of the areas he did. But it was a vocation to him."

It is understood Mr McGoldrick was in Moldova, Europe's poorest country, with Tom Lennon, who runs United Christian Aid in the Republic, when he fell ill.

United Christian Aid is the charity Michael credited with bringing him back from the brink after his son's terrible death, and of giving his life meaning.

Speaking of the work he carried out in Moldova once, Mr McGoldrick admitted that had it not been for his son's death, he might not have been involved.

"I was a Christian before, but not a fully-fledged one. After Michael's death, I had a conversion. Before they put the lid on my son's coffin, I put my two hands on top of his and said, 'Goodbye, I'll see you in heaven'.

"From that moment my whole life changed. I realised then how much evil there was in Northern Ireland, and I wanted to turn my life into something good, something positive."

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