Funeral tributes paid to Derry's Paddy "Bogside" Doherty
VETARAN civil rights activist Paddy “Bogside” Doherty was a resilient man and leader, mourners at his funeral heard.
As his funeral cortege was brought to St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry yesterday, Mr Doherty’s coffin was draped in the 1916 flag of the Irish Republic.
The golden Irish harp against a green background was a copy of the flag which flew over Dublin’s GPO during the 1916 Easter Rising. A member of Mr Doherty’s family said the flag was chosen as the former civil rights’ leader was a “true Irish man.”
The 89 year-old who died following an illness at his home in Derry on Thursday, played a key role in the Free Derry era and during the 1969 Battle of the Bogside. He was also the driving force behind the Inner City Trust which restored many of the buildings destroyed during the Troubles.
Hundreds turned out for the funeral including many figures from the world of politics including deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood as well as SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan and former Assembly speaker, Mitchel McLaughlin. Journalist and writer, Nell McCafferty also attended.
Mourners were joined by retired Church of Ireland bishop Dr James Mehaffey as well as Church of Ireland clergymen, Dean William Morton and Canon Brian Smeaton.
St Eugene’s Cathedral administrator Fr Paul Farren told mourners the Doherty family had been struck by a second bereavement in recent days after Mr Doherty's son-in-law, Jim Kelly – who was married to his daughter, Fiona – had also died and would be buried later today.
Fr Farren said Mr Doherty was a 'road builder' who had a self-help ethos based on his faith.
“There was no situation that he was ever in where he failed to see the possibility of building that road for others to follow to a better place.
“Paddy was a builder who didn’t just build and restore houses and public buildings but built community and most important of all, he built up self-esteem and self-worth in thousands of young people at a time when it was in short supply,” he said.
The priest said he had no doubt that Mr Doherty’s final project – a plan to build a huge statue of St Columba on the banks of the River Foyle – would have come to fruition had he been younger.
“I am 100 per cent sure that if Paddy thought about the statue of St Columba and the River Foyle ten years earlier than he did, the lights would have been turned out on it on Thursday night as a mark of respect.”
Following Requiem Mass Mr Doherty was buried at Derry City Cemetery.