The family of George Nkencho who was shot dead by armed gardai in Dublin have described life as a “gift” and urged people “not to waste it”.
A memorial for the 27-year-old, who died on December 30, was held near Mr Nkencho’s home in west Dublin on Sunday.
There were emotional scenes as family and friends gathered together to remember him and release balloons in the colours of his favourite team, Manchester United.
A minute’s silence was held after speeches were made and his name was read out 21 times.
Mr Nkencho was described as a “beautiful guy” and a “great friend, brother and son” who was “kind”.
His sister Gloria Nkencho said: “The one thing that I’ve realised in all of this is life is a gift. Every day we stand here it’s a gift. It is a gift to be breathing. If you are still breathing, no matter what problems you’re facing, what challenges are coming, you can survive it.
“We’re here to think about George and as we release these balloons I want everyone to think about everything it is that’s weighing them down and watch it float away.
“Watch it go into the sky and never come back again. You are on this Earth for a reason.
“Take the opportunity, take the gift. Don’t waste it.”
The family thanked those who turned out to support them.
Ms Nkencho said: “Words cannot begin to describe the appreciation that my family has for each and every single one of you here. Not all of you knew George, but some of you did.
“Regardless, you’re all here standing here with our family. It’s the love you have for me, my parents, my siblings that’s brought you here and because you know what’s right.”
George’s brother Emmanuel said: “We loved the same stuff, the same team. We played the same position, the same music.
“It’s hard to see him go like that. I wish that day had played out a different scenario than what I witnessed. I personally think there’s many other ways that the scenario could have played out, I wish it did.”
He added: “Nobody knew that was going to be his last moments. I wish, I wish that we could have seen him right before any of this happened because I know me or one of my siblings would have been able to talk to him, to speak to him.”
George’s friend Jessica told the crowd that she never saw her friend as someone who got into trouble and that he always stuck up for her.
“He was well known by everybody, nice, kind, “she said. “If this could have happened to anyone it shouldn’t have been him. Not him of all people. He didn’t deserve this.
“He’s just gone too soon. That’s all I can say. I want him to come back but it’s only wishful thinking.”
His friend Paddy said: “George was a beautiful guy, a great friend, a great brother, a great son. Nobody needs to go through this kind of thing.
“Please, please everybody here don’t give up on this. Let’s fight. Let’s keep going. We need to get justice for George. Black lives matter. George’s life mattered.”
Mr Nkencho was shot multiple times outside his home in Clonee on December 30.
He was allegedly brandishing a knife and threatened gardai before he was shot.
The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has launched a criminal investigation into the shooting.
Supporters and friends of the family have been demanding answers about the circumstances surrounding his death, holding protests outside Garda stations.