Tributes have been paid to a stalwart of the SDLP in the city following his sad passing on Christmas Day.
Charlie McLaughlin who was chairman of the SDLP in the city and also of the Shantallow branch of the party, had been ill for sometime. Mr McLaughlin is survived by his wife Betty, sons Stephen, Declan, Gary and David as well as daughters-in-law Ann, Angela and Grainne and his grandchildren. He was laid to rest in the City Cemetery following Requiem Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn on Sunday, December 27.
Leader of the SDLP, Colum Eastwood said: “I have known Charlie since I was a teenager and he was in charge of the sixth form at St Columb’s College. We were very close. He canvassed for me on the election trail. It is hard to find people who get involved for the love of the party.
“Charlie was asked a number of times to run for election himself, but he wasn’t in it for himself so he declined. He loved Derry as a place and its people and was involved right from the start of the Civil Rights campaign. Everything he did was voluntary, he never sought payment or promotion. It was the same with his work for Derry City FC and I’d say he’ll be missed there as much as anywhere.”
SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins said that if it had not been for Mr McLaughlin she would not be where she is today and that it was he who encouraged her to join the SDLP and later to stand for election.
“Charlie was for grass roots involvement in politics and was totally for the community. We just gelled. He was a grandfather figure to me and many more in the SDLP. He was totally unassming in his own role and despite being asked to run for election said that he was better off in the background,” she said.
Colr Dobbins also said Mr McLaughlin was the man to go to for advice and had a knack of helping to weigh up the pros and cons of any situation before leading you to make your own decision.
She continued: “He was especially proud of the young people in the party. It was his proudest moment when Colum Eastwood became leader of the SDLP and of course when Mark H Durkan became a minister. My first port of call after the leadership election was to Charlie’s house and he said about Colum ‘that’s my boy’. We all loved him to pieces.
“Charlie believed the SDLP began in Foyle and that’s why he took delight in the success of people such as Mark H Durkan and Colum Eastwood.”