One of the most prominent figures to emerge from the early days of the ‘Troubles’ in Londonderry has passed away.
Patrick Doherty, known as Paddy ‘Bogside’ died peacfully at his home in Westland Street in the early hours of this morning after a period of illness. He was in his 90th year.
A Book of Condolence will be opened in The Guildhall today by the Mayor, Elisha McCallion.
Born in 1926, Mr Doherty came to prominence as vice-chairman of the Derry Citizens Defence Association (DCDA) and played a major role in the events of August 1969 that culminated in the Battle of the Bogside.
Mr Doherty also became involved in the Credit Union movement in his native city.
The first recorded credit union in the UK was formed in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1960. Inspired by the formation of the first credit unions in the Republic of Ireland, six individuals pooled their savings and formally established the Derry Credit Union.
As the city became embroiled in the growing conflict the city centre basically became a bombed out mass of derelict sites. In the early 1970s the vision of Paddy Doherty helped establish a group known as the North West Centre for Learning and Development. Its main aim was to try to tackle at base level the perennial long-term unemployment rate within the city.
The first project undertaken by the group was the refurbishment of properties at 3-5 London Street. The North West Centre for Learning and Development soon became the Inner City Trust and attracted support from across the community.
From these beginnings and making use of government funding the Inner City Trust was soon involved in the redevelopment of a range of bombed out sites in the city centre.
Following the initial presence in London Street the Trust moved to work on sites in Shipquay street, Bishop Street and Society Street and began on refurbishment projects there too. It is estimated that at one point over 300 people were working for the Trust on construction projects.
The scope of the project however soon moved beyond the reconstruction of buildings in the city centre and the Inner City Trust also soon became involved in wider education projects. Derry Youth and Community Workshop. Established in 1978 which aimed to bring people back into the workforce by providing training in new skills as the traditional industries in the city began to disappear.
However the construction projects were not left to the side either and in its most ambitious project up to that point the Inner City Trust built the O’Doherty Fort which is now of course the home of the Tower Museum.
Next came the Craft Village which remains one of most well recognised and attractive places within the city’s walls. Other projects included the revamp of the Foyle Arts Centre on Lawerence Hill and even a project on Rathlin Island. All the while the Trust did not employ the training school method simply building something and then knocking it down again. The young people who mastered their trades their were able to take their skills directly onto construction sites.
If you stand at almost any given vantage point in the city centre today it is a fair bet you will be looking at something constructed by the Inner City Trust-the brainchild of Paddy ‘Bogside’ Doherty.
Offering her condolences to the Doherty family, the Mayor said: the Mayor said she was “deeply saddened” to hear of his passing.
“Paddy Bogside was a true Derry man who loved his city and its people. He leaves behind a real legacy that will have lasting benefits for future generations.
“A former vice chairman of the Derry Citizens Defence Association, Paddy was also heavily involved in the establishment of the credit union movement in Derry. He had a vision for a better future for Derry and worked to establish the North West Centre for Learning Development in the 1970’s to help tackle unemployment. This later became the Inner City Trust, which not only revitalised and rebuilt the city centre, but helped establish a wide range of educational projects aimed at providing people with new skills to help bring them back to work.”
SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan also expressed his deep sadness and described Mr Doherty him as a “lion of civic ambition and community ethic” who had a huge pride in his city, its hinterland and its history, and an even bigger heart for its people.
“The whole city will join Paddy’s family in their loss of a man of such warm inspiration and fond care.
“Paddy Doherty was a lion of civic ambition and community ethic. He was a true pioneer of methods of engagement and enablement which found wider practice with the development of the peace process.
“This was a man who could see problems but also recognised potential. His special ethic was to redress problems by releasing the potential, which was his working method in the Inner City Trust.
“He had dreams which he could turn into schemes, all driven by his ambition for the city and people he loved. He was a natural transformer who used change to enable more change. He could marshal his rightful indignation into purposeful initiative and recruit involvement to make things happen.
“He mixed a sense of mischief with achievement summed up in the adage that it is better to seek forgiveness than permission.
“Paddy liked to remind me that I had called him ‘a prophet’ many years ago. Today, as we witness how the City Walls are a shared asset enjoyed by visitors, the renaissance of the Columba legacy, the vibrant renewal of heritage properties and cultural pulse in the Walled City, we should recognise that many of this prophet’s hopes have been realised in his own city.
“But he would also want to hear us urging for more so that the experiences of future generations could match his expectations for Derry and its citizens.”
Helen Quigley, of the Inner City Trust, commented: “It was with regret that we learned of the death of Paddy Doherty, our former Chief Executive.
“Paddy carried out sterling work in respect of the regeneration of this city. He did so in a very positive and constructive manner during very challenging times. He gave hope and inspiration to many. He created jobs and opportunities particularly for our young people.
“Paddy was a determined, dedicated and fearless individual in pursuit of creating prosperity and leaving a legacy for generations to come. May he rest in peace,” she said.