Kevin Bell: Newry repatriation fund has 'brought 60 bodies home'

image copyrightPAUL MCPARLAND
image captionThe repatriation fund was set up after Kevin Bell died in New York in June 2013

A repatriation fund set up by people in Newry, County Down, 19 months ago has said it has brought the bodies of 60 people who died abroad back to the island of Ireland.

It was set up after Newry man Kevin Bell, who was 26, died in a suspected hit-and-run in New York in June 2013.

Money left over from repatriating Kevin's body has helped other families across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Kevin Bell's father, Colin Bell, described the fund as "Kevin's legacy".

"It was started by the people of Newry to bring Kevin home," he said.

"And the funds left over have been used to help people who were in the same situation as us, who lost their loved ones abroad, to take some of the stress away for them."

He said the Kevin Bell repatriation trust is assisting four families across Ireland this week, and that it is there to "help anyone that needs it".

'Loved ones'

At a meeting of the Irish foreign affairs committee on Wednesday, GAA president Liam Ó Néill praised the work being done by the fund.

He said it showed that GAA members were "helping build communities abroad".

Mr Bell said: "We are not a GAA charity, but we are a GAA family and glad to get recognition from the GAA.

"We take everybody home. We've taken people to the Falls Road, the Shankill Road, it's not just for people in the GAA community," Mr Bell added.

"We understand that people want to get their loved ones home as quickly as possible."

Mr Bell said the fund had received a humanitarian president's award from the GAA, and that he was glad Kevin's death had not been in vain.

"It'll not bring Kevin back, but it will be his legacy," he said.

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