Northern Ireland

Valerie Armstrong: Death of mother hit by scrambler 'robs us of a light', priest says

Several men carry Mrs Armstrong's coffin Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A funeral service for Valerie Armstrong took place in west Belfast

The death of a mother who was struck by a motorcycle "has robbed us of a light and plunged us into darkness", mourners at her funeral have heard.

Valerie Armstrong died last Wednesday night after she was hit by the scrambler bike in a forest park in west Belfast the previous evening.

A requiem Mass was held for Mrs Armstrong in the Church of the Nativity in Poleglass on Monday.

Image copyright Armstrong family
Image caption Mrs Armstrong, a mother to three young children, died on Wednesday night

Father Pat Sheehan said the days since her death were "hard and harrowing".

Mrs Armstrong was walking her dog along a path near Mila's Lake in Colin Glen Forest Park on Tuesday when she was struck.

A 17-year-old boy has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving and having no insurance.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Mrs Armstrong had been described as "a wonderful person, wife and mother", mourners were told

Fr Sheehan said Mrs Armstrong's "terrible" death "could have been avoided and should have been avoided".

He added that the hearts of those who knew Mrs Armstrong "have been heavy and our grief has been intense".

"When I think of Valerie Armstrong, I think of a cheerful and positive person - a person of faith and hope," he told mourners.

"Valerie loved life, she loved her husband Seamus, and she was committed to their three wonderful children, Dylan, Lucy and Sophie."

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Hundreds of people attended Mrs Armstrong's funeral at the Church of the Nativity in Poleglass

He said her death "has shocked us, angered us and left us broken-hearted".

He warned that people "need to think about what they are doing" when buying motorcycles for "young people living in built-up areas".

"These choices can and have devastating consequences even though that was never intended.

"These choices are destroying lives - both the lives of people like Valerie and the lives of young people responsible."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Mrs Armstrong's death has "robbed us of a light and plunged us into darkness", Fr Pat Sheehan said

He added: "Would it bring people to their senses if they had to face the heartbreak that has been caused?

"What if they had to listen to Seamus' heartbreak; a young man who has lost a wonderful wife?

"What if they had to they answer the questions of three young children who wonder why this terrible thing has happened to their mother?

"What if they had to explain to Valerie's broken-hearted parents that it was meant to be just fun?"

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