Christopher Stalford funeral: essential details for attending or watching online

The funeral for South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford will be streamed across the internet for those not able to attend in person.

By Adam Kula
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 9:28 pm

There will be a strictly private service at the family home, open only to relatives, followed by a public funeral service at 2pm on Saturday at Ravenhill Presbyterian Church, in south-east Belfast.

The church does not have a carpark itself, and those wishing to be present in person should be aware that parking can be limited in the surrounding area.

However the car park at nearby Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church – the former home church of DUP founder Rev Ian Paisley – will be open to mourners on the day.

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The service is set to be streamed live via the DUP’s YouTube channel, and via the church itself at the following link:

www.ravenhillchurch.org/online

It is expected that there will be representatives of both the UK and Irish governments in attendance.

The committal after the funeral service will be strictly for family only.

Mr Stalford died suddenly, aged only 39, last Saturday – stunning his colleagues and counterparts.

Emma Little-Pengelly, who formerly sat as an MLA for South Belfast at the same time as Mr Stalford, had known him for 25 years – ever since he was about 15.

They became political “sparring partners” almost immediately.

“We had our ups and downs, but at the same time we had a friendship,” she said.

Unusually, she believes that instead of seeking a leadership position or ministerial office, it was Mr Stalford’s ambition to become Stormont speaker – a position that entails the holder putting his own political opinions aside in order to facilitate the addresses of others.

Beyond that he may have had an eye on the House of Lords, where speakers of the devolved assemblies are sometimes called to serve.

Mr Stalford had lost his own father, Clifford, while he was a child.

Clifford was aged 26 at the time of his death – reportedly of a brain bleed – and Mr Stalford was aged about seven.

Mrs Pengelly believes the eldest of Mr Stalford’s four children is only around 11-years-old.

The loss of Clifford had “imprinted” upon him a desire to have the kind of relationship with them “that was denied to him because of his father’s premature death”.

“It’s such a complete tragedy that the children have ended up in a very similar situation, really,” she added.

“We’d been friends and fellow travellers for 25 years.

“He’s going to be deeply missed by his constituents, friends and family.

“It’s heartbreaking.”

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