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74-year-old Irish nun killed crossing road in Birmingham

By Sarah Mac Donald - 01 May, 2019

Sr Ita Keane rsm

Religious and community representatives in Birmingham have paid tribute to Sr Ita Keane from Cork, who died last Friday when she was struck by a car as she crossed the road in the West Midlands city.

The 74-year-old Mercy Sister was a native of Lower Glanmire Road in Cork city and some of her six siblings still live there.

A member of the community at St Mary’s Convent in Hunters Road, Handsworth, Sr Ita had previously worked as head teacher of a primary school in London before she moved to Birmingham.

She was crossing the road at Park Road, Aston, in Birmingham at 4 p.m. on Friday when she was struck by a car. She was rushed to hospital but died a few hours later.

Sr Ita had just been returning from the shops after purchasing items for a local family that had just been housed in the area.

Among those who paid tribute to the Cork nun was local councillor Khalid Mahmood, who described her as a “hard-working community member”.

Speaking to local radio in Birmingham, Cllr Mahmood said she worked tirelessly to help children in the community and helped out at St Francis Catholic Primary School.

“She looked after local children and local people and also helped with the school next door,” working “tirelessly and beyond her duty”, he said.

Another local councillor, Waseem Zaffar, who visited St Mary’s Convent where Sr Ita was a member of the community, said the news of her death had sent “shockwaves across Lozells”.

“Sr Ita was an amazing community activist from our neighbourhood,” he said and explained that at the time of her death she was helping a vulnerable local family.

A local charity worker Altaf Kazi described Sr Ita as a “true legend” and “advocate of the poor”. He added, “She was an extraordinary woman that helped so many people. Such a great loss to Birmingham.”

Rev David Butterworth of the Methodist Church in Birmingham tweeted: “A beautiful & very wise Sister who had time & heart for everyone. The Birmingham Methodist District & Birmingham Circuit counted her a close friend, family … Our condolences with all who knew her & especially her family within the Convent.”

Citizens UK Birmingham, an independent civil society alliance, tweeted: “Very sad news. The amazing Sr Ita Keane of St Mary’s Convent passed away yesterday.

“She was our rock & a dedicated organiser building the power of poor families in the city. Our prayers & thoughts are with the Sisters of Mercy family & her loved ones.”

Another community organisation, Aspire & Succeed, which offers after-school tuition, youth work and free citizens’ advice, said Sr Ita’s legacy would live on.

“Sr Ita was a true hero for us in Lozells. She helped shape so many projects currently being delivered, her legacy will live on. Our prayers and love go out to her loved ones and the Sisters of Mercy.”

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