friends of the Dunmurry teenager who died after being knocked
down by a bus in Belfast City Centre last Tuesday wept and
hugged each other as they watched her coffin being taken from
her Margaretta Park home to the nearby Church of Our Lady Queen
of Peace on Saturday morning.
Pupils from St. Dominic's Grammar School
formed a guard of honour as the funeral of Ciara Park who
celebrated her 16th birthday just two months ago got underway.
As a mark of respect buses operating across
Belfast stopped for one minute at 10.00am when her Requiem Mass
began in the Stewartstown Road church.
Pupils from St. Dominic's sang at the service
during which Father Brendan Hickland told mourners the teenager
had left behind 'a wonderful example achieved in such a short
span of life.
He said Ciara's parents Briege and Gerard and
her siblings Clare, Gerard and Stephen were 'rightly proud of
parents usually worry about the safety of their children on or
near main roads, a new and serious concern has surfaced for the
dangers and difficulties facing both pedestrians and bus drivers
in Belfast City Centre," Father Hickland continued.
It is a real and earnest hope of all people
this concentrated focus will prevent any further accidents or
deaths in our cities and communities so others will not have to
endure the trauma and heartache Ciara's family and friends are
When the Mass ended Ciara's funeral proceeded
to Belfast City Cemetery where her remains were laid to rest.
An online book of condolence set up by her
friends on the BEBO social networking site now contains around
1500 messages of sympathy.
Meanwhile, bus drivers Union Unite has urged
Stormont Ministers to look at the operation of pedestrian zones
in Belfast City Centre.
Ciara was hit by the bus and became trapped
under the vehicle during last Tuesday's evening rush hour.
She had separated from her father and brother
during a Christmas shopping trip to purchase a CD and arranged
to meet them in Primark Bank Buildings.
The tragedy occurred as she crossed Royal
Avenue outside the store and scores of people witnessed the
frantic efforts to save her during which firecrews used airbags
to raise the bus.
She was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital
where sadly she succumbed to her injuries.