VIDEO: Guard of honour’s last salute for Sir John Gorman

A Killyleagh chapel was packed to capacity on Monday by people paying tribute to “a great Catholic, a great unionist and a great Ulsterman” – former deputy speaker of the Assembly, Sir John Gorman.

Requiem Mass of for the former senior RUC officer, airline executive, council housing chief and UUP MLA took place at St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in the Co Down town this afternoon.

Funeral of John Gorman

Funeral of John Gorman

Requiem Mass for the former Irish Guards captain, senior RUC officer, British Airways regional manager, Housing Executive chief and UUP MLA, took place at St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in the Co Down town in the afternoon. A decorated war hero, he was 91.

A guard of honour was provided by the Irish Guards, and their Irish Wolfhound mascot, accompanied by a lone piper.

Sir John is survived by his wife Lady Gorman, and Jonny, Angela, Rosanagh and Mimi – his son, daughters and daughter-in-law – and their families.

Those among the congregation included UUP figures Lord Trimble, Mike Nesbitt, Sir Reg Empey, Tom Elliott and David Burnside, with DUP MLA and Speaker of the Assembly William Hay also present.

Newly-elected local SDLP councillor Terry Andrews, who described himself as “a personal friend” of Sir John’s, joined former soldiers in the guard of honour, wearing his grandfather’s WWII medals.

Fr Eugene O’Neill welcomed Sir John’s army and police colleagues, the Queen’s representative, Lord Lieutenant of County Down David Lindsay, and Canon Sean Rogan, representing the Bishop of Down and Conor.

He described Sir John as “a gentleman with the common touch: a man of deep friendships who inspired great loyalty, relishing the intimacy and brotherhood of the field of action; carrying friends with him through life; generous with his colleagues; who never lost the grace and joi de vivre which were characteristic features of his personality”.

He added: “He was a man whose basic approach to life was not to ask, ‘What can I get?’ But rather, ‘What can I give?’.”

Hymns sung included the patriotic “I Vow To Thee My Country” and also “Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace” by Saint Francis of Assisi.

Sir John’s profound faith was expressed in his service as minister of the eucharist and reader and his carrying of the stretchers of the sick in Lourdes, Fr O’Neill added.

Sir John’s son, also John, said how pleased his father would have been to see his army, police and political colleagues in his local place of worship. He then shot both fists in the air and exclaimed in his clipped English accent, that this was “absolutely marvellous”.

Sir John had such humility that he was “able to achieve consensus among the bitterest of enemies”, he added.

He closed by describing his father as “a great Catholic, a great unionist and a great Ulsterman”.