Martin McCafferty: Derry man had positive impact on all who encountered him
MARTIN McCafferty, first and foremost, was an ordinary man from Derry's Bogside who, like many young people of his generation, was impacted greatly by the inequalities, poverty and disadvantages in the city in the 1960s.
He was at the fore of the civil rights movement and campaigns for greater social justice.
He was a dynamic member of the youth section of the Derry Labour Party which became very active in advocating for the rights of all the city's working classes, calling for positive change and the need for a proper university, housing, jobs and equal opportunities for all.
Martin was also a ‘people person' who shied away from the spotlight, never seeking or wanting any public attention, and used his considerable experience and talent as a social worker to advance the care of those most in need.
Crucially he was not afraid to upset and challenge the status quo within the structures that oversaw the healthcare system.
Martin's early career centred on work within the greater Shantallow area, before taking over the reins at Creggan Day Centre.
He was widely known and appreciated within both communities for his passionate impact within the caring profession.
His strength was his kindness and the words that come to mind about the values that underpinned Martin's approach were dignity, respect and inclusivity.
Martin was a champion of greater local ownership within health provision and was always keen to promote the principles, values and benefits of such activity.
He was not simply the manager of Creggan Day Centre, he was an ardent defender and supporter of the rights of service users and their families.
With the full support of his staff he used every opportunity to demand and secure the resources to deliver the programmes that met the needs of the most vulnerable members of our community.
I have no doubt that Derry has lost someone who made a truly positive intervention in the lives of others.
Martin never forgot his Bogside roots and always placed the needs of his family and his community before his own.
A talented and creative character, he was also a gifted footballer who won an international youth cap for Northern Ireland and was not a bad singer to boot.
Over the last number of years his health failed significantly but he managed his illness with his usual temperament, in quiet dignity and with good humour at his home and more recently in the Foyle Hospice.
Martin was always respectful and appreciative for all those who cared for him, especially Anne-Marie his wife. Even in his latter days his family always remained utmost in his concerns.
He passed away late in the evening of June 19 surrounded by his family and friends.
Martin's legacy can be seen not only in his wonderfully caring, inspiring and hard-working family, but also his significant impact within the broader healthcare provision and well-being of our community.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that he made a truly positive change to all the people who encountered him on his life's journey.