Present and past staff of outgoing SDLP MLA for Foyle Pat Ramsey have paid tribute to the veteran politician following the announcement of his retirement.
Parliamentary Adviser Laurence McClenaghan, a former reporter with the ‘Derry Journal’ said: “I have been lucky enough to work on Mr. Ramsey’s staff for the last year. Every single day I felt honoured to assist the people of Derry and Mr Ramsey.
“There can be no doubt that local politics, indeed Irish politics, has been devalued with his departure. Certainly Derry is a much better place now than when Mr Ramsey entered politics. Mr Ramsey is a brave politician who never allowed his feet to leave the ground. Pat is a working class hero and we need more of those.
“Working with the MLA for Foyle at Parliamentary level was an opportunity I never thought would be granted to this wee Creggan Heights boy. I will always be grateful for the faith he and his constituents placed in me. I only hope I returned that trust.
“I am in no doubt my political experience has been the largest challenge of my career, challenging but rewarding.
“I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who trusted our constituency office staff enough to ask for assistance.
“It is however those constituents who we were unable to assist in the manner we would have wished, who will remain with Mr Ramsey, fellow staffer, Cathy Deery and I.
“Mrs Deery has worked for Mr. Ramsey for 12 years. How many families and individuals have benefitted from her work? Despite this she is totally unassuming, never once seeking thanks or praise. She, like Mr. Ramsey is also a City Champion.
“It has been a privilege to serve the people of Derry alongside my fellow staff. It has also been a privilege working alongside a giant of public service in Mr Ramsey. I’m often told Pat is the most popular man in Derry (usually by taxi men). My first-hand experience is he is certainly among the hardest working and dedicated to his city. His caring demeanour and dedication to a duty to serve is simply inspirational.
“Even during those times when his battles with ill health were clear, he never once complained. He rose and travelled to Belfast every day in order to champion the people and the party he dedicated his life to.
“Working as Mr. Ramsey’s Parliamentary Advisor is an experience which will stay with me forever, for that I thank him.
“I think the people of Derry, no matter their political persuasion, will agree with me when I state he must now be allowed to enjoy retirement. I wish him every joy, he deserves it.”
And, Pat’s former Parliamentary Adviser at Stormont, Emmet Doyle told the ‘Journal’: “Pat has been a figure on the political landscape in Derry for my entire lifetime and then some, it will be strange not to have him defending our interests in the Assembly.
“There is a little known picture of Pat and I when he was Mayor (and I was 11) presenting me with an award, so it seemed surreal to be at his side so many years later as his adviser. Politics is, despite what we might see regularly, very personal. I was proud to witness all the times Pat showed leadership and conviction even in the most difficult of circumstances, for example in trying to address prisoner issues.
“His passion for all things local, however, is how Pat’s career will be remembered. A man from the Bog who commanded so much respect in the City and in Stormont, from doorkeepers to Ministers.
“He had the most unique ability to communicate across the political divide, and always knew how to work Derry into a conversation. It was my greatest honour to serve him and the constituency and to learn from him. I wish him, Chris and all the family the very best for the future, he has left a legacy that they can all be proud of.”