Boyzone star Stephen Gately’s remains were welcomed home to Dublin amid emotional scenes tonight.
Hundreds lined the streets near St Laurence O’Toole Church in Dublin, just hours after the Daily Mail published a flagrant column by Jan Moir where she appeared to suggest that Gately died because he was gay.
The singer’s parents were joined by fellow Boyzone stars Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Shane Lynch and Keith Duffy together with their manager and the man who put Gately on the road to fame, Louis Walsh.
Keating said “Last Saturday, our world changed forever when we lost our friend and brother.
“We thank you from the bottom of our heart for the countless messages of love and support we have received this week have truly overwhelmed ourselves and the Gately family.”
Gately was found dead in a Majorca apartment last weekend. Post mortem examination results show he died from natural causes.
Before they left for Dublin, Keating in a statement said: “Stephen lived to perform and truly loved being centre stage.
“You can be sure he’s looking down on us now wishing we’d move over so he could flash his smile for the cameras one more time.
“What the future holds for the four of us now is too hard to even think about. But we know that nothing will ever be the same without our dearest friend, Stephen… rest in peace, brother.”
Keating was seen with a small tattoo in honour of Gately with the tribute “76 09”.
The band will perform at a Mass with local residents invited to attend.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have complained the Press Complaints Commission after the Daily Mail printed a column by Jan Moir in which she suggested that Boyzone singer Stephen Gately died because he was gay and said his “sleazy” death struck “another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships”.