BALLYCASTLE is reeling after the deaths of two men in the town in as many days.
On Friday, the body of a 44-year-old man was found in a flat following a fire in the Diamond area and then in the early hours of Sunday a 25-year-old man died following a stabbing in Stroanshesk Park.
The sister of Kevin O’Neill who was killed in Ballycastle on Sunday described him as a “one hundred per cent person.”
Mr O’Neill suffered fatal wounds following a stabbing at a house in Stronashesk Park. A 28-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and is helping police with their enquiries.
Speaking exclusively to the Times, his sister, Megan O’Neill, said the family were still in a state of shock and were being comforted by other family members and friends.
“Kevin was a one hundred per cent person. We just cannot believe this has happened and are devastated by his loss,” she said.
The deceased was aged 25 and had been living with his girlfriend at Ramoan Gardens in the town.
Hours before Mr O’Neill was killed his girlfriend, Lyndsay Connors, posted on her Facebook page about being ‘a good wee girlfriend’ by cooking dinner for her partner.
On Sunday she posted on the social networking site that she had lost “the only man I loved”.
She said she just wanted to awaken from “this bad dream” adding her heart had been broken.
A close family friend said: “Kevin was a great young fellow who was trying to get work. He was trying to get on with his life.”
Mr. O’Neill was well known in Ballycastle. One local taxi driver said he had been speaking to him on Friday and said he was in great form.
The death has prompted a flurry of comments on Facebook from friends who expressed their total shock and sadness at the sudden passing of a young man.
Officers from the PSNI Serious Crime Branch arrested one person in connection with Mr. O’Neill’s death.
The death was the second in the town in two days. On Friday, the body of 44-year-old David Carleton was discovered at a flat in the Diamond following a fire.
Sympathy to the respective families has been extended by a number of public representatives.
Moyle Councillor Seamus Blaney described as tragic the deaths of the two men.
Councillor Blaney, said the incidents had brought nothing but pain and misery to a number of families and he said the people of Ballycastle were stunned by the double tragedy.
“This is a town where virtually everyone knows each other and we all know what the families are going through.
“As yet we don’t know the exact circumstances of the two incidents and until then all we can do is offer our heartfelt sympathies to all the families involved,” Councillor Blaney said.
Independent councillor Padraig McShane says people were stunned by what’s unfolded.
“I can tell you that right now everybody is in complete shock. We don’t get this in Ballycastle - people are distraught.”
Sinn Féin councillor Cara McShane said: “I was shocked to hear about the death of young man in a stabbing incident and would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family who I know well. I would appeal to anyone with information to bring it immediately to the PSNI.”
SDLP councillor Donal Cunningham said: “The victim of this horrific attack, Kevin O’Neill is from a well known and respected Ballycastle family and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at what must be an extremely difficult time.
“People in this area are in a total state of shock and this attack represents an attack not just on Mr O’Neill but the wider community also.
“Knife crime has no place on the streets of Ballycastle or anywhere else and we need tough sentencing laws to get through to people that carrying and using knives is not acceptable.”
Police are continuing to investigate the incident.
The death of Mr.Carleton has also caused shock and sadness. Originally from Larne, Mr. Carleton had been living in Ballycastle for a number of years and was said to be a quiet, unassuming person.
Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay said the community was shocked by the death.
Mr McKay said: “I offer my deepest sympathy to the family of this man who tragically died today in a house fire. The local community is truly shocked at what has happened.
Moyle District Council Chairman Cllr Sandra Hunter said she was “very sad to learn of the death” of a 44 year old man in a house fire in Ballycastle.
“My sympathies and thoughts are with the family at this tragic time. This tragic death by fire is one too many for the Moyle District and I would urge people to take the opportunity of a free Home Fire Safety Check and advice from professionals.”
She also expressed her shock at the fatal stabbing of Mr O’Neill.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time and I would ask anyone with information on this incident to contact the PSNI,” she said.
Police and the emergency services are investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire and a full examination is taking place to determine the cause.