WISHIE HACKETT

I passed the GAA Club (St Macartan’s) at Augher on the main Ballygawley to Clogher road twice this evening (Tuesday) so my thoughts were with the Hackett family and their friends and neighbours……

More details have emerged about the death last Friday evening of Wishie (Aloysius) Hackett, a leading member of St Macartan’s GAA Club, who was found dead at his home at Aghindarragh Road near Augher in County Tyrone. His 18 year-old son Sean, a former Tyrone minor footballer, has been remanded in custody charged with murdering his father, aged 60. Omagh magistrates court heard that Sean Hackett initially told police he had returned home to find his father’s body. He later said he had shot him, the court heard. He was granted compassionate bail to attend his father’s funeral at noon on Wednesday at St Macartan’s church, Springtown Road, Ballynagurragh near Augher.

St MacCartan's church, Augher

St Macartan’s church, Augher  © M.Fisher

The BBC reports that “Omagh Magistrate’s Court heard Mr Hackett was being treated for depression and had asked a friend to obtain a gun for him twice in the last two months. The compassionate bail for Wednesday’s funeral has been granted under strict conditions. Mr Hackett is not allowed access to a mobile phone or to the internet while travelling to and from the funeral and is only permitted to speak to two chaperones, including a solicitor and the (Tyrone) GAA manager Mickey Harte. He is not allowed to speak to immediate family members. Sean Hackett, who was arrested shortly after the incident, did not look at his family during the hearing. His mother, two brothers and sister were in court for the hearing along with a large number of supporters who waved to the teenager as he left the dock. His mother was distraught throughout and broke down fully when bail was refused and compassionate bail granted”.

The Public Prosecution Service appealed the decision to grant compassionate bail at the High Court. Refusing the appeal, a judge directed that the accused’s two chaperones must collect him from Hydebank Young Offender’s Centre near Belfast, take him to the requiem Mass  in Augher and immediately afterwards return him to custody. Meanwhile, a 17-year-old youth arrested on Sunday in connection with Mr Hackett’s death has been released pending a report to the PPS.

TYRONE TRAGEDY

Police cordon at Aghindarragh Road

Police cordon at Aghindarragh Road

TYRONE has seen many tragedies over the years, including ones that have affected the GAA community, both directly and indirectly. I have reported on some in the past. The latest tragic death in the county took place in the countryside around Augher, in the parish of Clogher, close to the border with County Monaghan. As the crow flies, it is only a few miles to the scene of another community in mourning, the parish of Donagh, where the body of 19 year-old Jason McGovern (Knocknagrave, Tydavnet) was returned home in a candlelit vigil last night. The links between the two areas, cut off when the main cross-border road was blocked, remain close. Jason’s father Seamus comes from the parish of Clogher. The two deaths however are unconnected.

The PSNI say they have begun a murder enquiry following the death of a 60 year-old man whose body was found at Aghindarragh Road near Augher on Friday evening. The location is not far from the historic site known as St Patrick’s chair and well in Altdaven wood. An 18 year-old man was arrested and is continuing to help police with their enquiries. The man who died was Wishie (Aloysius) Hackett. He worked as a joiner and was a prominent member of St Macartan’s GAA Club in Augher. Clogher parish priest Canon Lawrence Dawson said the family were numb and could not explain what had happened. He described Mr Hackett as a wonderful community man who had done much for the area and for local (Gaelic) football. A statement from the GAA club said the family had appealed for privacy at this time of mourning. A one minute’s silence in memory of Mr Hackett was held before Tyrone’s Dr McKenna Cup match against Derry at Healy Park in Omagh. Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said she expressed her sympathies to all concerned especially family and friends who were sadly dealing with this news. She said her thoughts and prayers were with those affected by the death. Ulster Unionist councillor Allan Rainey said the man’s death had shocked and numbed the community. “They just can’t really take it in that something of this nature could happen,” he added. A forensic team spent most of Saturday carrying out investigations beside a house and the surrounding area was cordoned off for several hours.

House at Aghindarragh Road

House at Aghindarragh Road

UPDATE:  An 18 year-old man has been charged with the murder of Wishie Hackett. The teenager, who was detained on Friday, was charged after detectives were given until (tonight) Monday evening to charge or release him. He is due to appear before Omagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday. The PSNI say a 17-year-old youth arrested in connection with the incident on Sunday has been released, pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service. It is believed three of Mr Hackett’s children were out of the country when news of his death emerged. They are travelling home for his funeral which is due to take place at St Macartan’s Church (the Forth chapel) at Ballynagurragh near Augher on Wednesday.

St MacCartan's church, Augher

St Macartan’s church, Augher

Photos: © Michael Fisher 2013