Northern Ireland news

"Freedom" honour proposed for Strabane nurse who died from Covid-19

Strabane nurse, Pat McManus died from Covid-19 in April.
Seamus McKinney

CALLS have been made to honour a Co Tyrone nurse, who was the first Northern Ireland health worker to die from Covid-19.

Pat McManus (60) died from coronavirus in April after refusing to remove himself from frontline nursing duties despite suffering from underlying health issues. His sons said their father contracted the illness from a patient he was treating.

Originally from Townsend Street in Strabane, Mr McManus was a son of former veteran SDLP councillor Peggy McManus who died in 2016.

The Strabane man, who was a father-of-three, had worked as a nurse for more than 40 years and was working in Staffordshire, England at the time of his death.

Confirming his death, Mr McManus’s family said: “He contracted this cruel virus while working on the front line doing what he’s done for 40 years, caring and looking after others.

“He was a man who stood up for what he believed in and fought for others. He was a proud man who loved ‘his boys’, his grandchildren and all his family very much.”

The proposal to posthumously present Mr McManus with the “Freedom of Strabane” will be made at next Thursday’s meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council by independent member Paul Gallagher.

Mr Gallagher, a friend of Mr McManus, said it was important that he be granted the freedom of “Strabane” rather than the freedom of the council.

“He was from Strabane and it’s important that he be honoured in his home town,” he said.

The councillor said that it would be the first time the freedom of Strabane had been awarded since the town’s original council amalgamated with Derry to form a new local authority.

“I think he deserves the highest honour in Strabane because of the courage he showed. He was in the backroom staff and could have remained there but when Covid-19 broke out, he moved himself to frontline work and gave his life for it,” Mr Gallagher said.

Previous recipients of the Freedom of Derry have included former SDLP leader, John Hume and former Derry bishops, Edward Daly and James Mehaffey. Former Derry City football club manager, Jim McLaughlin was granted the freedom of the city last year.

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