Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

A champion of peace and hero of our troubled times

Paddy Joe McClean, a former school inspector from Beragh, is a hero for these new times.

PJ, as he is known, is a former civil rights leader, who has taken considerable personal risks to speak up for human decency in the darkest days of our recent history.

In the early-Seventies, he was a civil rights leader and became one of the several hooded men arrested and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by the British Army in the first days of internment.

He seldom talks about it, though it is branded on his memory and he fought the case through the European Court.

He believes it is wrong to drag up past grievances.

Since his release, he has consistently spoken for peace and justice.

When a Dublin magazine accused a detective he knew of torturing him, PJ wrote from jail to deny it. The officer, Peter Flanagan, sued the magazine, but was later murdered by the IRA anyway.

It was what PJ had feared would come of demonising the officer.

Few people would have that kind of perspective. This brave man showed it again this week when he spoke up for his friends the Kerrs after the murder of their son, Ronan.

PJ is the sort of role model we all need at the moment; someone who can draw wisdom - not bitterness - from his own experience of violence and injustice.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz