SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has expressed his deep sadness at the death of a James Doherty – describing him as a “complete gentleman” and one of Derry’s most loved and respected businessmen.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Durkan praised Mr. Doherty, who passed away on Friday, for his “patriotism” and “enterprise”.
“We mourn the passing of a fine man of patriotism, enterprise, community spirit, public service, faith and charity.
“James Doherty was a complete gentleman, gracious in manner, generous with his time, yet gritty in his genius for managing change, moving things forward and bringing people along.
“In commerce, he sustained change and grew a successful family business in the face of various market changes, overcoming direct violent attacks on his business during the Troubles and providing valued and loyal employment.
“But alongside his commercial responsibilities and family commitments he gave great time and quality to public life. In particular, his dedication to education reflected a special personal regard for the well-being, talent and betterment of younger generations.
“The time and thought that he gave on all his years on the Western Education and Library Board, in so many school governor boards, in other roles like Derry Community Social Services and in quiet support of personal interventions James epitomised the ethic ‘every child is our child’,” said Mr. Durkan.
Mr. Durkan went on to refer to Mr. Doherty as “well-loved” and said his thoughts and prayers were with Mr. Doherty’s family at this difficult time.
“In all his doings – personal, public, civic, corporate or charitable – he conveyed encouragement. This reflected his natural empathy, positivity and a genuine respect and appreciation for other people.
“But he wasn’t just a man of soft graces – he had his own strong views which he reflected firmly and fairly. This showed in his contribution to political and civic life as a Nationalist councillor in the days of gerrymandering, his Civil Rights involvement and his response to other events.
“It was also reflected in steely and astute stands he took on key school developments and in other attitudes. Indeed, this man who had served on various public boards and was well-versed in management-speak made the personal effort to register his profound dismay and disagreement over the unfolding decisions by health trusts around care homes and other services for the elderly.
“While sensitive to the small cares of others, James always had a great sense of the big picture – nationally and internationally in terms of politics, economics and social trends.
“He was well-read, well-regarded, well-meaninged at all times and well-loved.
“The whole community will join James’s loving family in mourning the passing of a man of such profound worth, of such good work, of real wisdom and genuine warmth.”
Mr. Doherty’s funeral will take place at St. Patrick’s Church Pennyburn on Sunday at 2pm.