'Secret peacemaker' Brendan Duddy laid to rest in Derry
Hundreds attend funeral at St Eugene's Cathedral
A businessman who risked his life for peace deserved the Nobel Prize, mourners at the funeral of Brendan Duddy were told on Monday.
Mr Duddy, the Londonderry businessman who acted as a mediator between republicans and the security services, died at Altnagelvin Hospital on Friday.
After British soldiers shot civil protesters dead on Bloody Sunday in 1972, Mr Duddy contacted M16. For the next 20 years, including during the H Block hunger strikes, he worked tirelessly as a conduit between the republican leadership and the British government.
The father-of-six, who was 80, had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2010.
At his funeral in St Eugene's Cathedral, mourners heard of his courage and dedication in the search for peace in Northern
Broadcaster Peter Taylor said: "Brendan's contribution is incalculable.
"John Hume (SDLP founder) and David Trimble (ex-Ulster Unionist leader) deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, but Brendan Duddy deserved it too.
"We owe him a great debt."
In his homily, Fr Chris Ferguson said: "Brendan's role was to help people see the opportunity that existed for peace."
"Brendan worked hard at creating trust, ensuring that there would be no disclosures that could have harmed the building of relationships.
"He firmly believed there was a willingness on all sides to negotiate."
Fr Ferguson said 'informal, low-key diplomacy" was "Brendan's forte", as well as his ability to build trust.
"Brendan had a great ability to think outside the box which was so necessary in the infancy of the political discussions in which he was involved.
"Always maintaining the long view, Brendan never gave up hope, regardless of many setbacks."
He said: "Brendan in his position as a facilitator found himself bearing witness to the secret fears and anxieties of all sides, containing this tension became a life-long vocation with the aid of all those who were involved in the secret talks, with those who managed to keep the back channels open."
Mr Duddy's wife Margo, their children Patricia, Lawrence, Paula, Brendan, Shauna and Tonya were joined by hundreds of mourners, including Nobel Prize winner John Hume, former Foyle MP Mark Durkan and a representative of Irish president Michael D Higgins.
His former running team, the City of Derry Spartans, formed a guard of honour as he was brought from the church.