Northern Ireland

Tributes paid to Bellaghy man Damian Brown

Bellaghy GAA man Damian Brown
Bellaghy GAA man Damian Brown

THE campaigning son of murdered GAA official Sean Brown has been described as a "humble, generous and determined individual" after his death at the weekend.

Damian Brown, who was in his early 50s and from Bellaghy in Co Derry, died on Friday after a short illness.

His father Sean Brown was abducted by members of the LVF as he locked up at the grounds of Bellaghy Wolf Tones GAA club in May 1997.

The father-of-six was bundled into the boot of own car and taken to a country lane outside Randalstown in Co Antrim where he was shot six times.

Mr Brown's family has campaigned for an inquest into his death and his son Damian attended around 30 preliminary inquests over the years.

Sean Brown
Sean Brown

From a family steeped in GAA tradition and a former Bellaghy player, Mr Brown was involved with panels that picked up several Derry championship titles in the 1980s and1990's.

He also helped his club secure an Ulster title in 1994 and took part in the 1995 All-Ireland club final against Kilmacud Crokes.

His uncle, Chris Brown, is also well known in GAA circles and managed Derry minors to All-Ireland success in 2002.

Former Derry All-Ireland winner Damian Cassidy said the Brown family is "synonymous" with the Bellaghy GAA club and paid tribute to his former clubmate last night.

"Damian would have had a long battle with the murder of his father and seemed to be the driver and was certainly the spokesman for the family in trying to get justice for the family," he said.

"He was a strong personality and a very determined charachter.

"I would have known Damian from he was a lad and the first time I got to know him was when he was playing minor football and I was the coach."

Mr Cassidy said Mr Brown's death had "stunned" local people.

"It's the actual suddenness of it that takes you back," he said.

Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre, who worked closely with Mr Brown on his father's case, said he "was persistent in his search for truth and justice".

"Almost 30 times we made the journey to preliminary hearings at the coroners court in Belfast only to face delay after delay," he said.

"Damian remained dignified throughout. He shouldered the burden of seeking justice for his family and it is a shocking injustice that he never lived to see an inquest into his fathers death."

Mr O'Connor described Mr Brown as a "gentle, humble, generous and determined individual".

"He will be sorely missed and our thoughts at this time are with his family whose support over the years was crucial," he said.

Mr Brown is survived by a large family circle including his mother Bridie, wife Jeanette and sons Damán and Declan.

Requiem Mass for Mr Brown will take place in the Church of St Mary, Bellaghy, this morning with interment in the adjoining cemetery.