Vincent Currie: From school debater to dedicated SDLP councillor
VINCENT Currie’s political skills were first apparent as a schoolboy in Dungannon where he won awards for his debating.
As a younger brother of then Stormont East Tyrone MP Austin Currie, he also took part in civil rights marches while still in his teens before eventually carving out his own reputation as an SDLP representative.
His 26 years on Dungannon Borough Council included many dark times during the Troubles but he won respect across party lines for his dedicated public service.
Vincent was the seventh of 11 children born to John and Mary Currie on a farm in Mullaghmarget between Dungannon and Coalisland in 1953.
He joined his siblings at the local primary in Edendork before grammar school in Dungannon, where Austin – the eldest in the family – said he was a talented pupil.
“Vincent was very bright, very witty, he was a good orator, a good Irish dancer, and he won awards for debating at St Patrick’s Academy,” he said.
After school Vincent went to work in Dublin, where he met his wife Phyllis from Co Offaly.
They then moved north and settled in Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, where he worked with his two brothers in Donaghmore Construction – now known as Forrme – as a quantity surveyor.
He joined the SDLP when it was formed after the outbreak of the Troubles and was first elected to Dungannon Borough Council in 1985, going on to become its first nationalist chairman in 1996.
During his term he laid a wreath at a Remembrance Day service in the town.
He said he wanted to identify with the relatives of all those who had lost their lives in conflict.
Paying tribute this week, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “This act illustrated Vincent’s attitude as a public servant; open, tolerant and accepting of all parts of the community.”
Vincent stood unsuccessfully as a candidate in the 2007 assembly election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and lost his council seat in 2011.
He died aged 65 in the Southern Area Hospice on September 16.
Predeceased by his wife Phyllis, he is survived by his sons Diarmuid and Joseph, daughter Alanna, and siblings Austin, Raymond, Sean, Brian, Mairead, Colette, Aiden, Brendan and Annette. He was predeceased by his brother Seamus.
Requiem Mass for Mr Currie was celebrated at St Malachy’s Church, Edendork in Co Tyrone before he was buried beside his wife in St Manchan’s cemetery, Boher, Co Offaly.