Call for Paddy ‘Bogside’ Doherty Memorial to mark contribution

The late veteran civil rights activist Paddy Doherty. (Photo: Pacemaker)
The late veteran civil rights activist Paddy Doherty. (Photo: Pacemaker)

A friend of one of Derry’s best known figures, has called for a permanent memorial to be erected honouring his contribution to the city.

Paddy Doherty, affectionately known as ‘Paddy Bogside,’ passed away three years ago at the age of 90 and fellow Bogside man, Frankie McMenamin, said he was disappointed that a memorial has ever been erectedin his memory.

Paddy Doherty was among the most prominent figures to emerge in Derry during and after the Civil Rights Movement and the Troubles. Born in Derry in 1926, he would later become vice-chairman of the Derry Citizens Defence Association in the late 1960s and his home on Westland Street became its headquarters.

He was also instrumental in the early Credit Union movement; the foundation of the NW Centre for Learning and Development and the Inner City Trust, which was the catalyst for the restoration and regeneration of much of the bomb-damaged and derelict city centre and which led to the building of Derry’s unique Craft Village.

In 1978 he whelped establish the Derry Youth and Community Workshop to provide training in skills.

Mr. McMenamin, who had trained at the workshop after leaving school in 1981, and who kept in touch with Mr Doherty right up until he passed away, said: “I’m surprised there was nothing ever put up in the town in memory of Paddy Doherty. He is a legend.

“We got to know the Doherty family after we moved to Gartan Square just after Bloody Sunday in 1972. During the Troubles Paddy’s was more or less the only family that had a phone, they had a payphone in the hall and the door was always open to anybody and families who had youths arrested, would ask Paddy to come with them to the barracks.

“He started the Workshop on Lawrence Hill in 1979 with Colm Cavanagh. To me that was one of the best experiences I had after leaving school. I met Mary Nelis there who did Adult Literacy, and there was Una Green who did graphics, John Shiels who did gardening and John Beaon who did metalwork.

“Hundreds and hundreds of people went through the Workshop and it helped to build people’s confidence as well as their skills.

“Paddy met Presidents from the US and politicians from Downing Street, actors and actresses, and was deeply involved in Derry. There should be a monument or plaque put in memory of him in the middle of the town somewhere to mark his contribution during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. He was responsible for building the town back up after the struggle and the Workshop trained young people to build these places back up again. He got people together and built the Craft Village, which was one of the things he was most proud of.”