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Calls for memorial to woman who sparked regeneration of Derry park following sudden death

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Campaigner: Dr Aine Downey

Campaigner: Dr Aine Downey

Campaigner: Dr Aine Downey

A call for a permanent memorial to a woman who helped spark the regeneration of Brooke Park in Londonderry has been made following her sudden death this week.

Retired academic, university lecturer and passionate Gaeilgeoir Dr Aine Downey (nee Morton) passed away on Monday aged 78 and will be remembered in Derry as a "champion for the underdog".

In recent years she lent her voice and support to her son Garbhan, who is part of the Derry University Group that campaigns for an independent university in the city.

Among those paying tribute to Dr Downey was Dalton Kehoe, who joined forces with her to bring about the restoration of Brooke Park.

This effort also included the first children's park in Northern Ireland with specialist equipment for the disabled.

Mr Kehoe said: "I have known Aine since we first formed the campaign to regenerate Brooke Park, a place she loved.

"Aine was a champion for the underdog and she passionately wanted to see Brooke Park restored and returned to the people.

"She loved Brooke Park so much and helped achieve so much for the park.

"I think it would only be fitting if there was a permanent memorial to her placed there."

Dr Downey was also a native Irish speaker who did much to promote the language in Derry.

Dr Anne McCloskey, who knew Dr Downey through their shared love of Gaelic, said she was broken-hearted at the loss of her friend.

She added: "Aine was very proud of her culture and her heritage and was involved in all the Irish language initiatives in Derry. More latterly, through her son Garbhan, she was involved in the university for Derry group.

"The people of Derry and the interests of the people of Derry were front and centre of everything she did.

"Her presence in the city will be sorely missed."

Belfast Telegraph