Lives Remembered

Liam McQuaid: Dedicated Co Tyrone councillor was elected before being old enough to vote

Liam McQuaid served as a councillor for more than 40 years

LIAM McQuaid was elected a councillor before he was even old enough to vote.

He was just 20 when he became a member of the new Omagh District Council in 1973, the youngest councillor in Northern Ireland.

When he finally stepped down in 2005, he had given more than 40 years' dedicated service to the people of Co Tyrone including four terms as council chairman.

Not that retired slowed him down - right up until his sudden death aged 74 he was working for the betterment of the community in Dromore and helping neighbours in any way he could.

Brought up a few miles down the the road in Trillick, Liam had been forced to take responsibility from an early age.

The eldest of five children, both his parents died when he was young and at 16 he began work at McAleer and Teague building firm.

He remained with the company for many years before working for contractor Sean McCourt.

Involvement with the civil rights movement led to him joining the newly-formed SDLP and despite still being under the voting age of 21, he was elected with a huge backing to sit on Omagh council after the reorganisation of local government in 1973.

It was a difficult and often dangerous time to be a public representative - fellow Trillick councillor Patsy Kelly was murdered in 1974 and many other nationalist representatives were subject to threats.

However, Liam remained firmly wedded to the principles of non-violence throughout his life and worked hard to represent any constituent who sought his help.

Trillick councillor Mary Garrity said he was a huge figure in the community and a wonderful support when she was beginning her political career.

"On the face of it he may sometimes have seemed quiet or shy but Liam was an immensely funny man with a wonderful personality and when we were out canvassing we always had great fun," she said.

"He worked tirelessly for the community, whether it was filling out forms or in later years for Dromore 2000 and the Ecclesville Centre, and he loved seeing people doing well - there wasn't a begrudging bone in his body.

"It was almost in his DNA to help people and give something back."

Liam moved to Dromore after marrying his wife Mary and in his little time away from public service they enjoyed old-time dancing together.

He died of a heart attack on March 12, just a day after celebrating his 74th birthday.

Predeceased by Mary, he is survived by his children Catherine, Briege, Attracta, Brian, Hugh, Noelle, Imelda and Liam, brothers Tom, Noel and Brendan and sister Margaret.

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Lives Remembered