‘Street family’ take part in funeral of homeless ‘Jimmy’

Donegall Place
Donegall Place

Members of the “street family” of homeless Belfast man Jimmy Coulter who died in a shop doorway last weekend, today “took part” in his funeral Mass.

The service was held today at 10am in Saint Paul’s Roman Catholic Church on the Falls Road. He was later buried in Belmont cemetery.

Donna Connor, from Hope Outreach for the Homeless in Belfast said “a few hundred people attended his funeral and the church was full”.

Mrs Connor, who knew Jimmy as a “regular” through her nightly work helping the homeless in Belfast said: “There were people there, including the homeless that I know, at the service.

“His family were devastated today as you would imagine.”

In the homily, Monsignor Antony Perumayan, said Jimmy, who had grown up in Ligoneil had “worked in construction over the years”.

“He enjoyed football and boxing,” he said. “You remember at the end of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”, when the angel Clarence gives a note to George Bailey? The note reads, ‘Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” On this count, Jimmy was fantastically successful. He had a lot of friends and enjoyed socializing with his friends. He was very good natured and very loving. He would do anything to help anyone.”

Mrs Connor said Jimmy’s immediate family - his father, two brothers and a sister - prior to the funeral, had asked volunteers “from our organisation, the Welcome Organisation and Amethyst to take part in the service”.

“We did readings and it was really lovely to be asked,” she said.

“When we were up with the family last night they said they wanted his street family to be a part of the service and to have their turns in carrying the coffin,” she added.

Mrs Connor said during the service the priest spoke of how “everyone loved Jimmy and missed him and how he was a character”.

She said Jimmy’s family had been “very supportive of him and there was always a room and a home for him and they had contact with him”.

Tragic Jimmy, who was in his 30s, died on Saturday while sleeping rough.

He was found unconscious in Donegall Place and paramedics spent more than 40 minutes with him at the scene.

The cause of his death has not been made public although he had been released from hospital days before his passing.