Posthumous "Freedom" honour for Strabane nurse Pat McManus who died treating Covid patients
THE first Northern Ireland frontline health worker to die from Covid-19 has been posthumously awarded the Freedom of Derry and Strabane.
Pat McManus (60) died from the virus in April after refusing to withdraw from frontline nursing despite having an underlying health issue.
Mr McManus was a son of former veteran Strabane SDLP councillor, Peggy McManus who died in 2016.
The Co Tyrone medic worked as a nurse for more than 40 years and was working in England when he passed away. His family said he contracted the illness from a patient he was treating.
Independent councillor Paul Gallagher originally proposed that Mr McManus be given the Freedom of Strabane as it was his home town. However, he was told at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council that only the freedom of the entire council area could be awarded.
Mr Gallagher, who was a friend of the late Mr McManus, agreed to amend his proposal to incorporate the entire area.
He said Mr McManus held a senior “backroom” position in a Staffordshire hospital.
“But when this Covid came, he very much wanted to use his experience in the field and he went to the frontline. Pat knew he had some underlying conditions but he took the brave decision to move to the frontline where he felt his experience could help save lives.
“I'm bringing this motion – and bringing it as an individual motion – about a brave individual. I think that Pat deserves the highest honour that the council can bestow on a Strabane man,” he said.
A number of councillors from other parties spoke in favour of the motion and also thanked and praised frontline health workers.
The Strabane councillor said that while the posthumous honour would not ease the grief of Mr McManus's family, it would show that the council cared.
The motion was passed unanimously.