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Why republican anger couldn't stop parades negotiator Jim Roddy from proudly taking MBE

By Donna Deeney

Published 01/01/2016

Jim Roddy his wife Bernie
Jim Roddy his wife Bernie

A Londonderry man recognised in the New Year's Honours list has admitted he had grave reservations about accepting it because of how it would be perceived by some within the republican community.

Jim Roddy, Derry's city centre manager, was awarded an MBE for services to business and the community, but he revealed some people had already told him they were not comfortable with the British aspect of the award.

Mr Roddy has been at the forefront of successful negotiations between the two communities over parading in Derry.

The work has seen the city held up as a shining example of what can be achieved, with parades now mostly trouble-free.

It is understood his effort in this field was at the centre of his nomination for the award.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Roddy said his decision to accept the MBE was largely down to the fact that he had been nominated by local people.

"I only realised the process behind the selection this month, mostly because it was not something I had ever thought about," he added.

"When I realised it was because someone who knows me put my name forward and then that nomination was accompanied by testimonies from a large group of others, that actually floored me.

"I did have to think hard about whether or not to accept it because I knew immediately how it would be perceived by some people. I knew there would be people who wouldn't like it - and to be brutally honest I knew there would be people who would want to hurt me because of it.

"Other people I talk to in my daily life and take advice from told me straight they were not happy about it, but they said it would not make a difference to the way they treated me, which is something I can live with. It is something I have had to get used to in the line of work I do.

"I know for a fact that I had done and said things that have angered people from the loyalist and unionist community, and no-one can please all of the people all of the time.

"After thinking about it and talking to close friends and, of course, my family, I decided to accept the award.

"I am a Derry man and proud of it. I am an Irishman and proud of that too. I live in the UK and I am comfortable with all of those things, and this will not change how I think of myself. But I felt honoured that people who know me thought enough of me and the work I do to put my name forward.

"In the line of work I do, I often ask people to take bold steps and move out of their comfort zone, so I felt I had to do the same out of respect to the people who nominated me - and because it was the right decision. I can live with that, even if others can't."

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