Derry’s MP has spoken of his sadness of the death of former Labour MP Tony Benn.
Mark Durkan said the veteran left wing campaigner, who passed away earlier today was “passionate in his politics, compassionate in his outlook and compelling in debate.”
“For him politics was a battle of ideas, not a contest of image.
“He was always ready to argue issues on the basis of the interests at play and the rights at stake.
“Articulate in his own ideology, he also appreciated when others argued in terms of clear ideas – even when he disagreed with them.
“Tony Benn was a great parliamentarian, wonderful platform orator, and both personable and impressive in private conversation.
“Whether in the Chamber or in the corridor, on the stump or in the studio, he was a wonderful communicator because he spoke with conviction in terms that really related to people.
“He was a man who just naturally radiated charm, warmth and honour.”
The SDLP MP continued: “The last occasion in which I spoke to Tony Benn was when he came into the House for the tributes to Nelson Mandela. He had been a stalwart of the Anti-Apartheid Movement with his distinctive indignation at the violation of rights, sense of justice and spirit of democratic struggle.
“He lent that same campaigning character to the quest of the Bloody Sunday families and other victims of unaccountable power.”