Tributes have been paid to former mayor of Derry, Dr Raymond McClean, who died at the weekend.
Dr McClean passed away in Altnagelvin hospital on Saturday night following a long illness. He was 78 years-old.
He was known throughout Derry and further afield for his work as a GP, inlcuding on Bloody Sunday when he attended to many of the dead and the wounded; his time as the first nationalist mayor of Derry following the end of gerrymandering; and his charity work, particularly for children in Iraq.
He was also a tireless campaigner for the victims of Bloody Sunday, giving graphic evidence to both the Widgery and Saville inquiries.
The tributes were led by Nobel laureate John Hume, who campaigned alongside Dr McClean in the civil rights movement.
“Raymond McClean devoted his life to helping others,” Mr Hume said. “He cared deeply about people and loved his city and his country. His selfless contribution to Derry and its people is immeasurable.
“Healing, humility and civility were his watchwords throughout a distinguished career as a medical doctor, civil rights activist, author and sportsman,” the former SDLP leader said.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also paid tribute to the former mayor and said his death was particularly poignant coming on the eve of the anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
“I extend sincere condolences to Raymond McClean’s wife Sheila, daughter Sheila, son Sean and to his wider family circle on the sad news of Raymond’s death.
“It was particularly poignant that Raymond passed away on the weekend of the Bloody Sunday commemoration given his role on that tragic day and his central involvement in exposing the lies of the British establishment about Bloody Sunday throughout the years.
“Raymond will be forever remembered for his close association with the Bloody Sunday families and their search for truth. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sheila and his bereaved family at this sad time,” he said.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said Dr McClean cared deeply for the people of Derry. “Raymond McClean was a man of many parts but only one face. The compassion and motivation that made him a doctor extended to a concern for people’s social and economic well being, not just their physical health. He was also concerned for the health of the community and of the city he loved and served.
“As a civil rights activist and as one of the first councillors elected in a Derry free of gerrymandering he was a champion for change and justice. His medical vocation and his political consciousness combined to expose the pernicious impact of CS gas. Again both as a doctor and an activist he played a valiant role on Bloody Sunday – attending so many of the wounded and dying and serving as a tireless witness for their innocence.
“Raymond McClean thought about everybody but himself but he was at heart a fighter. An absolute gentleman, fundamentally tolerant and liberal but he gave no quarter on an issue of justice, truth or anyone’s dignity or rights,” he said.
The Mayor of Derry, councillor Colum Eastwood, also paid tribute to Dr McClean. “Raymond McClean was a true hero of Derry. As the first Nationalist mayor he was in many ways the original first citizen of the city.
“Ahead of his time as a civil rights activist he marched to end injustice and promoted partnership and peace in everything he did. It is poignant that he should pass away on the weekend of the Bloody Sunday march.
“In many ways his book ‘The Road to Bloody Sunday’ was the first dossier of evidence collected in support of a second inquiry.
“Raymond McClean was an inspiration and as a city we share in the sense of loss felt by his wife Sheila and family at this sad time,” he said.
Dr McClean’s remains will be removed from his former home at Aberfoyle Crescent this evening at 6.30pm to St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, where his Requiem Mass will be celebrated tomorrow at 10am.