Paddy Bogside Doherty 'a visionary who made world a better place'
There was laughter at the funeral of Paddy Doherty when a priest said he hoped that Londonderry's former Inner City Trust chairman would not try to regenerate heaven.
Mr Doherty (89) was also a founder member of the Derry Citizens Defence Association, which was set up in 1969 during the battle of the Bogside.
He was also a founder member of the Derry Credit Union, and the Inner City Trust which employed thousands of jobless teenagers to rebuild the centre of Derry which was almost completely destroyed during the IRA's bombing campaign of the 1970s and 1980s.
Known as Paddy 'Bogside', he established personal contacts with Prince Charles, who shared his interest in urban regeneration, and numerous senior Irish and British politicians and loyalist and republican paramilitary leaders.
Current and former political leaders were among the mourners yesterday at the requiem mass which took place in St Eugene's Cathedral, where Mr Doherty was baptised 89 years ago.
The congregation laughed when, in his homily, Fr Paul Farren, administrator of St Eugene's parish, said "may Paddy now not try to regenerate heaven".
Fr Farren said Mr Doherty was an inspirational visionary in his community over many decades.
"Paddy was a remarkable man. He was a resilient man and he was a remarkable leader. A leader was once described as a person who makes a road where there is no road and leaves a path behind for others to follow. That was Paddy," he said.
"Paddy was a builder who not just built and restored houses and public buildings, but he also built up a community and most importantly of all, built up self esteem and self worth in thousands of young people at a time when it was in short supply.
"So if it was civil rights or regeneration in the city or working for those in poverty or with those with special needs, there was always a vision and there was always the practical means to make the vision a reality. There was no such thing as an insurmountable obstacle in Paddy's drive for the common good.
"Paddy was completely committed to the common good, to this city and to society.
"He had a massive vision and he had a unique way of making that vision real and everybody benefited as a result", said Fr Farren.
"Paddy came from that past generation of resilient people, of big thinkers, grounded visionaries with an indestructible spirit who were not bound by selfishness or even economics but who had a great freedom and confidence that enabled them to commit to the common good.
"We need people like Paddy again who are grounded in their faith, committed to their families and who have the confidence and generosity to commit to the common good and make society a better place."
Following the requiem mass Mr Doherty was buried in the city cemetery.
Mr Doherty is survived by wife Eileen and 12 children.