FORMER assembly member Eamonn McCann has described Derry activist Dermie McClenaghan, who has died, as a “constant presence” in the civil rights’ movement.
One of the founders of the Derry Housing Action Committee in the 1960s, Mr McClenaghan helped organise the October 5 1968 civil rights’ march at Duke Street, which many believe marked the start of the Troubles.
Mr McClenaghan, who was in his eighties, passed away after a long illness on Thursday, just hours after enjoying a Christmas drink with his friend of 60 years, Mr McCann. Mr McCann said the two “comrades” met up for a drink in Sandino’s bar as they had been doing regularly on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
The former People before Profit assembly member told the BBC his long-time friend didn’t have a “bad bone in his body”.
Mr McCann said: “Dermie was in the Derry Labour Party, the Derry branch of the Northern Ireland Labour Party, very active in 1967 at local government elections. We came from that tendency within the civil rights’ movement which tried to assert the centrality of class as well as other problems and contradictions in the society around us. Dermie was a constant presence in all of that.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mr McClenaghan everyone would miss the Derry man.
“I’m so sad to hear that Dermie McClenaghan has passed. A true socialist, a real rebel and, probably, the nicest person I have ever met,” Mr Eastwood said.
Mayor Sandra Duffy said Mr McClenaghan played a huge role in the civil rights’ movement.