Belfast Telegraph

Obituary: SDLP stalwart Dorita Field dies

By Ben Lowry blowry@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Dorita Field, who has died aged 82, was a zoologist who became director of a Belfast City Council department, and went on to begin a decade as a councillor when past retirement age.

Dorita Field, who has died aged 82, was a zoologist who became director of a Belfast City Council department, and went on to begin a decade as a councillor when past retirement age.

As a South African-born of Protestant background who served in that country's Navy and Army, she was not a typical SDLP representative.

On joining the party, of which she later became treasurer, she insisted that she was a socialist and not a nationalist.

"What matters is people's lives and their health," she said.

Mrs Field, who survived a UFF attack on her house, worked in intelligence during the Second World War, where she met her husband Claude, also from Northern Ireland, who became a paediatrician at Belfast City Hospital.

Mrs Field, who died on New Year's Eve, was a graduate in zoology and mathematics who went on to qualify as a town planner and social worker and rose to Director of Community Services in Belfast City Council, helping to develop leisure centres across the city in the 1970s.

In 1989 she became the first ever SDLP Councillor for the affluent Balmoral ward, serving two terms there.

Her Malone home was fire-bombed on the same night as her party colleague, Dr Alasdair McDonnell's, in February 1993, in what the UFF described as an attack on "pan-nationalists".

Her response was: "Considering the number of real tragedies that political violence has produced in Northern Ireland, I can only be sad. I don't want to exaggerate the importance of this."

Despite considering herself a pacifist, she regularly attended the cenotaph services. In 1994 she served on the EU monitoring team for the first post-apartheid elections.

SDLP MLA and councillor for Balmoral Carmel Hanna described Mrs Field as "extraordinarily humane, versatile and competent and truly a renaissance woman".

She is survived by Claude, her daughter, Jenny, and her son, Simon.

Mrs Field will be cremated at Roselawn tomorrow.

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