The city should be proud of how it responds to adversity and how it supports its people
Crowds gather at the back of Belfast City Hall to being searching for missing Dean McIlwaine
Belfast showed its true colours on Monday night.
The searches for Dean McIlwaine have been ongoing since July 13 as his family desperately seek any sort of update as to his whereabouts, no matter how small that is.
And at a time of year when this city can be in the news for the wrong reasons, for a few hours on a Monday evening it showed what it is really about.
That is, a spirit resilience, community and supporting others in need.
After a warm summer’s day, around two hundred people gathered inside the grounds of Belfast City Hall to offer their support to a family who never thought they’d them.
Many there had never met Dean or his family but wanted to do their bit.
That is a constant theme of some of the great people of this city.
Dean McIlwaine is missing
Volunteers who work on the streets to help the homeless used their expertise to lead groups of people across the city.
The crowds dispersed through the streets searching every corner that they could, plastering ‘missing’ posters to the walls.
Among them were the Newtownabbey man’s devastated friends and family.
They say that it’s out of character. They have hit a brick wall.
His cousin, Jordan, told Belfast Live: “He’s just a normal guy, he’s a hard-working guy. That’s why we’re so surprised he’s not here.
“He doesn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. He really is a lovely guy.”
The family has thanked the support of the public
Jordan is as baffled as anyone by Dean’s disappearance and he pleaded with him to make contact.
He said: “Dean, everyone is worried sick about you. We just need you home – if you’re clearing your head or whatever you’re doing – just give us something.
“No matter you’re thinking, no matter what you’re doing, we need to hear from you.”
When the search began to wind down for the night, Dean’s father Rodney’s first question to the lead volunteers was: “Did everyone get home safe?”
The touching mark of a man who days ago would never have thought that he would be in this position.
The family faces more difficult days ahead, but they can know that they have the support of this city when they need it.
As it proves time and time again.