Thousands attend boy's funeral

Robert Holohan had been missing for more than a week

Thousands of people have attended the funeral of a schoolboy who was found murdered in County Cork.

The body of Robert Holohan, 11, was discovered near Inch Strand in east Cork on Wednesday, more than a week after he disappeared.

The Midleton boy had died from asphyxiation. Gardai said that there was no evidence of sexual assault.

Among the mourners at his funeral were political figures and volunteers who took part in the search for the child.

Robert's body was found in dense woodland about seven miles from where he went missing. Detectives have begun a murder inquiry as they try to piece together when and where he died.

"No-one in Ireland has been untouched by this".
Mary McAleese
Irish President

Gardai are continuing to search the area where his body was found.

Hundreds lined the main street of Midletown on Saturday as Robert's body was brought from the family home to the Holy Rosary Church in the town.

The church was filled to capacity while thousands more gathered outside.

Father Billy O'Donovan, said 4 January, the day Robertdisappeared, would live long in the nation's memory.

The town came to a standstill for the little boy's funeral

He told the congregation that the schoolboy's parents, Mark and Najella, had the support of the country.

"They know themselves they must start the long journey of looking to the future, coping with their grief and, in time, putting their lives back together again," he said.

Many cried as Father O'Donovan recalled his conversation with a police officer who had been guarding the scene where Robert's body was found.

The police officer told him that he wanted Robert's parents to know that their young son was not alone that night.

"I just wished I had a blanket wrapped around him," the officer said.

Fr O'Donovan said all the people who had taken part in the searches for Robert were heroes.

"During the past 12 days we've witnessed and experienced something very special here in Midleton and the surrounding community," he said.

Fr O'Donovan read a message from Irish President McAleese, who said she wanted to convey her admiration for what the community had done to help the family.

"No-one in Ireland has been untouched by this," she added.

The funeral was attended by a number of politicians, including representatives of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as well as Employment Minister Micheal Martin.

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