The former Bishop of Derry, Rev Dr Edward Daly has paid tribute to his lifelong friend Paddy Doherty following the death of the much respected veteran civil rights activist.
Bishop Daly told the ‘Journal’: I’ve known Paddy since the 1960’s and he and his wife Eillen were always good friends to me. I knew him of course through the whole civil rights period.
“Paddy was someone who had a huge affection for Derry and he was very hurt by the destruction of Derry and it seemed to him towards the end of the 1970s that no one wanted to anything about it.
“He came and spoke to me about this idea he had which became the Inner City Trust. For him this was especially about the young people of Derry, particularly in deperived areas.
“Paddy asked myself, Bishop Mehaffey, Michael McCafferty, Rev Bolton and others to sit on the board of the Trust. He was always full of ideas and he was daunted by nothing.
“A thing that isn’t always mentioned is that he was a wonderful public speaker. He had a great sales pitch for the Inner City Trust where he spoke in front of a screen carrying pictures of the city. It was very successful in persuading people why they should support the project.”
“He was a real tour de force and he gathered huge amounts of funding to regenerate the city centre. The trust began in London Street, then Bishop street and of course on to Butcher street, which has been completely destroyed in the ‘Troubles’. Butcher Street of course now has the Calgach Centre and the Tower Hotel. In Magazine Street he was responsible for building the Nerve Centre and the youth hostel there.”
Dr Daly also contended that the achievements of Mr Doherty were not just centred on reconstructing buildings.
“Paddy gave people a belief. He maintained that if you involved young people in building they would not be involved in destruction. He not only regenerated the city centre, he re-energised the people as well.
“By the time I retired from the Inner City Trust they had a huge portfolio of property and all the debt had been paid back.
“Overall I had a huge regard for Paddy. I visited him in recent years and he had become old and tired, but he did so much for Derry and I hope that is remembered.
“For example Paddy couldn’t get a home under the housing system so he built one himself. If someone told him that something coud not be done, he set his heart on doing it.”