Belfast Telegraph

SDLP leader Eastwood pays tribute to former Mayor of Derry

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has paid tribute to former Mayor of Derry William O'Connell.

Mr O'Connell, who had been an SDLP councillor, died peacefully at Altnagelvin Hospital on Christmas Eve.

He leaves behind his wife Eileen, children David, John, Marie, Conal and Ronan, and grandchildren Lauren, Nicole, Christina, and Athanasios.

In a statement, Foyle MLA Mr Eastwood said: "William was a hugely respected figure in the SDLP throughout many of the most difficult and transformative years in Derry and across Ireland.

"He was a constant and loyal friend to John Hume in the dark days of our past. He was a central part of the movement in this city which knew and understood that the taking of human life was never the way to achieve a new and better Ireland.

"William loved serving the people of Shantallow as a public representative for many years and in turn he was deeply respected and appreciated by the community he served. He carried that pride for his community when he represented this city as its Mayor.

"That passion never left William, from the early days of civil rights to his career in the Derry Journal. He was above all else a proud Derry man.

"On behalf of the SDLP, I want to express my deepest sympathy to his family and friends. May he rest in peace."

His funeral will leave his home at 7 Maybrook Park on Boxing Day at 11.50am, travelling to St Patrick's Church, Pennyburn for Requiem Mass at 12.30pm. Interment will take place afterwards in the City Cemetery.

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