The support of the Bessbrook community — from both sides of the religious divide — has been of great comfort to the family of drowning victim Oswald Bradley, Danny Kennedy has said.
The Newry and Armagh MLA has spent time with the family over the last two days and is acting as a spokesman for the traumatised relatives.
“They are still trying to understand things and make sense of things, but they are getting huge support from friends and neighbours right across the community,” he said.
“The Bessbrook community has rallied to their aid, but it is desperately sad and very tragic.
“I think there is that sense that they are struggling to understand the awful sequence of events.”
It is understood Mr Bradley, who was 68, drowned as he attempted to reach an island on Bessbrook Pond on Monday afternoon.
He was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry but attempts to resuscitate him failed.
“All of the duties have been undertaken. The post mortem has been carried out and the body has now been returned to the family and to the family home.
“The family has now asked for a degree of privacy as they seek to come terms with the tragedy.
“They have been concerned at media intrusion, so I would appeal for them to be left to grieve and to come to terms with the events of the last 36 hours.”
The Ulster Unionist MLA confirmed that the funeral of Mr Bradley would take place in the village tomorrow at mid-day.
“After a short service in the home there will be a short service at the Presbyterian churchyard where Oswald was associated with the congregation and where his wife (Violet) and parents rest,” he said.
Mr Bradley is survived by daughters Diane and Andrea, brother Derek and sister Sandra, and four grand children.