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James Doherty: Leading Derry businessman who campaigned for civil rights

Published 27/05/2015

Public service: James Doherty
Public service: James Doherty

St Patrick's Church in Pennyburn in Derry was packed on Sunday afternoon for the funeral of well-known businessman and civil rights activist James Doherty.

The 90-year-old, who founded Doherty's Meats, one of the major meat suppliers in the north west, passed away on Friday after battling ill health.

Speaking during the funeral Mass, the retired Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly said Mr Doherty had contributed to life in the city and in the wider community.

He said: "He brought his ability and intelligence and generosity to the life of his city and well beyond.

"In any society, it is very easy for a person who is successful professionally or commercially to opt out of any public service.

"Throughout his life, James has engaged in public service in many capacities."

Referring to Mr Doherty's time as a nationalist councillor on the old Derry Corporation, Bishop Daly said: "He was an elected Nationalist member of the old gerrymandered Londonderry Corporation - which must have been one of the most frustrating forms of public service imaginable known to man.

"He was actively involved in the civil rights campaign and the subsequent Derry Citizens Action Committee.

"He then served as chairman of the Western Education and Library Board and was a member of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive when these were newly-created bodies changing the face of education and housing here in the 1970s and 1980s and addressing some of the dreadful housing injustices of the past and the evolving nature of education."

The funeral Mass was celebrated by eight priests, including Bishop Daly, Bishop Francis Lagan and Father Michael McCaughey.

Belfast Telegraph

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