Old photograph shows Derry 1970's republican leadership

 The Derry Brigade Team which played a Bogside and Brandywell select in 1975
Seamus McKinney

A unique photograph of Martin McGuinness and a Derry football team has given a new insight into the leadership of the republican movement in Derry during the 1975 ceasefire.

Former IRA bomber, Shane Paul O’Doherty supplied the photograph of a football team made up of republicans, many of whom had been on the run at the time.

The team – nick-named “The Derry Brigade Team” – played a friendly soccer match at the Brandywell Stadium against a Bogside/Brandywell select team during the ceasefire.

“The match was organised because the local lads challenged the IRA leadership during the ceasefire. While there was a ceasefire, there was still republican security around the Brandywell during the game,” Mr O’Doherty said.

The 1975 truce was called after talks between the IRA leadership and Protestant church leaders at Feakle in County Clare in 1974. The IRA called an extended Christmas ceasefire to allow consideration of proposals agreed at the Feakle talks. The ceasefire continued in name only until March 1976.

Former deputy first minister, Mr McGuinness played as goalkeeper on the team and is pictured wearing what appeared to be an Ulster GAA jersey. An avid sports enthusiast, Mr McGuinness’s notoriously bad eyesight prevented him from achieving success on the playing field. However, that didn’t stop him from trying. In October 1998, then MP for Mid Ulster, he broke his leg while playing in a celebrity football match during the Creggan Festival in Derry.

Other well-known republicans on the side included Mr O’Doherty, Terry Crossan (Derry businessman), Peter Anderson (former Sinn Féin councillor) and Tommy Mellon (a member of a leading Derry republican family).

Many of those pictured eventually broke with mainstream republicanism for a variety of reasons, Mr O’Doherty said.

“In the ceasefire virtually everyone in the picture except one, me, had been given permission to return home. I was wanted for the London bombings and wasn’t given permission to return home until May – the picture was taken in February – and when I did, I was arrested; they were watching the house,” he said.

O'Doherty, who turned away from the IRA while in prison, said his arrest by the RUC against the rule of the British government was one of the incidents which broke the ceasefire.

The full team is, back from left: John Coyle, Mickey Deery, Terry Crossan, Shane Paul O’Doherty, Peter Anderson, Bobby Sheerin, Tommy Mellon, Stevie Stewart. Front from left: Willie Taylor, Ducksy Doherty, Martin McGuinness, Frankie McFeely, Patsy Edgar.

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