Northern Ireland news

Tributes to Francie Brolly ahead of funeral

The funeral of former Sinn Féin MLA Francie Brolly will take place today

THE funeral of Francie Brolly will take place today as tributes continue to pour in for the 82-year-old veteran republican.

A former Sinn Féin MLA for East Derry who left the party over its liberal stance on abortion two years ago, Mr Brolly died at the family home near Dungiven in early hours of Thursday.

In a tribute on social media, Gerry Adams recalled how he had first met Mr Brolly while they were interned in Long Kesh.

"He was always pleasant, committed and outgoing," the former Sinn Féin president wrote.

"A great singer and songwriter, rooted in Irish culture. My comh bhrón to Anne, his anamchara and their clann."

A teacher by profession, Mr Brolly was also a high-profile inter-county Gaelic footballer with Derry and played hurling and football for Dungiven.

His son Joe, a well-known GAA pundit, was an All-Ireland GAA medal winner.

The father-of-five was renowned for his songwriting and his love of the Irish language. Interned in 1972, Mr Brolly later wrote The H-Block Song.

GAA journalist Gerry McLaughlin, described him as "one of the true greats".

"You were...a Gaelgeoir, a great singer/bard, a great GAA man a great Irish man in the best sense of the word, a great family man and a man of great principle," said Mr McLaughlin, a contributor to The Irish News.

"You were what the ancient Irish would call a dune ildanach, a man for all seasons, and you and Anne's greatest legacy are your children and their children who proudly carry much of what is merry in this grey old world. I know the great bards of Ireland will walk with you through the door beyond the grave, and the great Gaels of Dungiven and Derry will hold you to their hearts in a place where there is no more pain and the moon is an angel's wing."

Veteran campaigner Eamonn McCann spoke of how he "disagreed with Francie Brolly a thousand times" but remembered how they 'sat close in Fr McLinchey's class where they played music together, and on a personal level always got on".

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at St Patrick's Church, Dungiven at 1pm.

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