Ivan Cooper's 'unshakeable belief in human rights' was an inspiration, says President Michael D. Higgins

Ivan Cooper with President Michael D. Higgins last October.
Ivan Cooper with President Michael D. Higgins last October.

The President Michael D. Higgins has said the late Ivan Cooper's "unshakeable belief in the universality and indivisibility of human rights" was an inspiration.

Speaking after the civil right leader's death on Wednesday, President Higgins said: “It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Ivan Cooper, former MP, civil rights activist, justice advocate and founding member of the SDLP.

"As one of the organisers behind the earliest and many of the initiatives of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland which were responding to the exclusion of so many from the most basic rights as housing, health and education, Ivan Cooper took inspiration from civic actions in the United States and became himself one of sources of inspiration for all those who took a stand against inequality and injustice.

"With his unshakeable belief in the universality and indivisibility of human rights, Ivan Cooper was a beacon of hope and the embodiment of the power of non-violent actions in pursuit of justice."

Last October President Higgins presented a special award to Mr. Cooper who joined him on stage for his key note speech during the October 5, 1968, commemorations in the Guildhall.

The President said the former chair of the Derry Citizens’ Action Committee had left a huge legacy.

"His work as a campaigner in the 1960s was rewarded when he won the largest political mandate of any nationalist member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland and his legacy of personal courage, leadership and the dedication to the cause of justice continues to inspire activists and politicians alike.

"As President of Ireland may I express my deepest sympathies to Ivan’s wife Francis, his daughters Sinead and Bronagh and his wide circle of family and friends.”