It was with profound sadness that the family friends and comrades of South Armagh republican Gary Toner learned of his tragic and untimely death last month.
Gary, who was 27 years of age, lived at Oliver Plunkett Park, Belleeks among the rolling hills of South Armagh. He spent his childhood growing up in a war zone, witnessing the daily harassment and intrusion from a foreign occupying army. From his days at Drumilly Primary School and St. Paul's Secondary School, Gary grew to become a very popular personality among his many friends. He was a roof tiler by trade and always ready and willing to give a helping hand when required.
In his own quiet and unassuming way, and in typical South Armagh fashion, Gary blended well into the wider community. In the words of a comrade, his contribution and commitment to the struggle for Irish freedom, justice and peace was unquestionable and invaluable.
Gary was killed on 18 November as the result of a car accident. The large turnout for his funeral was testament to the high esteem in which he was held. His colleagues in the St. Laurence O'Toole's GFC will miss his support and assistance. His family, very highly respected in the area, have been overwhelmed by the level of support and comfort from the local community. Gary's fiancée Elaine and son Gearóid will carry their loss for the rest of their lives.
In a message, the Toner family summed up in a few short words what epitomised Gary's memory:
A special son, a special brother, a special daddy.
To us you were someone special.
We miss you every day.
The saddest day in our life
Was the day you passed away.
We think of you in silence,
d always speak your name,
But all we have is memories
Of a picture in a frame.
Will all who think of Gary today,
A little prayer to Jesus say.
Sadly missed by your loving fiancée Elaine and son, Gearóid. XXX
Ar dheis láimh Dé go raibh a anam.