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John Joseph Gill

'Last opportunity' appeal launched to find family of Irishman who recently died in England

John Joseph Gill died in Birmingham on 25 November.

AN APPEAL TO find the family of an Irish person who died in England last month has been described as the “last opportunity” for somebody to come forward.

John Joseph Gill died in the Orchard House nursing home in Birmingham on 25 November.

Gill was in residential and nursing homes from the beginning of 2008 until his death.

Birmingham City Council’s Ian Coxhead told RTÉ’s News at One that “we’re reaching the point where for the dignity and respect towards Gill, that probably this is the last opportunity really” to locate his family.

Coxhead also told RTÉ that he believes Gill was born in Co Roscommon on 31 August, 1936, that he had “up to eight siblings”, and that Gill had no children and was never married.

However, Coxhead said this information came from conversations between Gill and social workers and a local Catholic priest and that little else is known about him or his family.

While many people have offered to assist in finding Gill’s family, Coxhead said: “With (the) limited parts we have, they haven’t been able to come up with anything concrete.”

Should no one come forward, Coxhead explained that Birmingham City Council “will progress with funeral arrangements” and noted that Gill had expressed a wish to be buried.

However, Coxhead said “our interest is in trying to trace family so that they’re aware of his passing and can have an involvement in the (funeral) arrangements that we make”.

Coxhead also noted that his experience of dealing with Irish families in these situations is that the “family like to be involved and have on occasion taken over the funeral arrangements”.

He said Birmingham City Council would “gladly assist” the family if this is their wish.

Given the City Council are aware of Gill’s funeral wishes, Coxhead said it “would be wrong to not to carry out the funeral arrangement”.

He added: “If somebody comes forward after that, we will be able to say we made every effort possible and at least be able to tell them what arrangements were made for the funeral.”

While Coxhead told RTÉ that this is “exceptionally sad”, he noted that this is “unfortunately not an unusual story”.

“People do lose contact with relatives, we (Birmingham City Council) do what we can, but we do reach points where we are sadly unable to find family on occasions.”

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