Northern Ireland news

Funeral of Irish News chairman Jim Fitzpatrick to take place today in Belfast

The funeral of Mr Fitzpatrick will take place today

THE funeral of the chairman of The Irish News, Jim Fitzpatrick, will take place today in Belfast.

Family, friends and colleagues are due to gather at St Brigid's Church in the south of the city to remember the 92-year-old who died on Saturday following a short illness.

Figures from business, journalism and politics from across Ireland are expected to be among the many mourners set to attend the Requiem Mass at 11am.

It is understood that Taoiseach Micheál Martin will be represented at the service by his aide de camp.

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Heartfelt tributes have continued to pour in for Mr Fitzpatrick, who was last night described as "the very definition of a great businessman".

The father-of-eight played an active role in the newspaper for more than half a century. As proprietor since the early 1980s, under his leadership The Irish News has established itself as the north's biggest-selling daily title.

He also made important contributions behind the scenes during the peace process and was closely involved with a range of business, civic and charitable organisations.

His dedication to the city's business community was remembered last night by Michael Stewart, president of the Belfast Chamber, who said it was "saddened to learn of Jim’s passing".

"Jim was the very definition of a great businessman as well as being an absolute gentleman," he said.

"He was selfless in his service to the city’s business community during his time as president of Belfast Chamber and was still a regular attendee at our events, taking a keen interest in the organisation.

"Jim knew the value and importance of bringing people from across Belfast together and he did so during what were very difficult times in our city’s history.

"Jim will be sorely missed by his many friends at Belfast Chamber and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family."

Eoin Brannigan, editor-in-chief of the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life, also paid tribute and extended his sympathies to Mr Fitzpatrick's "family and all at the Irish News on his sad passing".

"The Belfast newspapers have always enjoyed a positive, competitive relationship, a tradition I'm glad to say continues to this day," he said.

"The tributes paid to Jim reflect his influence in the newspaper business and beyond. May he rest in peace."

Ben Lowry, editor of the News Letter, also described The Irish News chairman as "a giant of the local newspaper industry".

"He was also a key voice against violence in the Troubles. My deepest condolences to his family," he said.

Journalist Henry McDonald wrote on Twitter that he was "so sorry to hear about Jim Fitzpatrick senior passing".

"He was a true gentleman, courteous, fair and considerate," he said.

"Jim gave me my first full-time job in journalism and I will always be grateful for that."

:: As a mark of respect on the passing of our friend and chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, The Irish News front office will be closed today from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

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