Christopher O'Neill was a dedicated republican. By the age of 22 he was already chairperson of his local Sinn Féin cumann in Kilrea. He ran, for Sinn Féin, in the Skerries ward in Coleraine Council in the 2011 election, coming very close to taking the seat. His death is a deep loss for Sinn Féin Republican Youth and wider Republican circles. Sinn Féin Republican Youth would like to express their deepest sympathy with the family and friends of Christopher O'Neill and Declan McKenna.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams gave the main oration at Christopher's funeral, which can be found here. Sinn Féin Republican Youth activist Seán Bateson alson spoke on the day:
“It is with great sadness that I stand before you at the graveside of Christopher O’Neill to pay my respects on behalf of Sinn Féin Republican Youth.
As you are well aware coming from the many comments and remarks from everyone over the past few days, Christopher was an exceptional young lad who had his whole life ahead of him but instead it was tragically taking from him in the early hours of Saturday morning along with his close friend Declan McKenna.
I knew Christopher well, he was a comrade but also a friend of mine and it was only last Thursday that me and him sat outside the front of my house chatting about politics and this and that and the other.
Unfortunately like the rest of you it will be the last time I will ever get to speak to Chrissy again.
But that’s the type of lad Chrissy was. He was an exceptionally kind, generous, down to earth and warm hearted lad who had all the time of the day to sit and chat away to everyone regardless of who they were. These are the type of attributes which made Chrissy such a fantastic, capable and talented young Republican and he took these with him as he served the role of Chairperson of the local Sinn Féin Cumann here in Kilrea.
Coming from a large republican family with his grandfather being John Davey, a Sinn Fein Councillor from Lavey who was murdered by loyalists acting in collusion with British state forces in 1989, Christopher knew fine well about the struggle for equality, justice, unity and freedom here in Ireland and this is what propelled him to take on such a role within the republican movement.
His untimely death at such a young age is a great loss to the republican movement and of course to his family and friends and the wider community here in Kilrea and beyond.
I want to extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the O Neill and McKenna families on behalf of Sinn Féin Republican Youth. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time."