Belfast Telegraph

West Belfast priest Fr Des Wilson (94) dies

Father Des Wilson
Father Des Wilson
Des Wilson with former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

By Eimear McGovern

The death has been announced on Tuesday of the west Belfast priest Fr Des Wilson.

In June, Fr Wilson (94) celebrated 70 years in the priesthood after living and working in Belfast since 1966.

Fr Wilson, originally from the Ormeau Road, was well-known for setting up the Springhill Community House in Ballymurphy and educating young disadvantaged people.

He had written a column for the Andersonstown News for more than 30 years.

The former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams expressed his deep personal sadness following Fr Wilson's death.

"He was hugely respected and loved as a priest, a community activist, an educator, a defender of people’s rights, an author, dramatist and writer. He was also a man of great courage, a good neighbour, and a decent human being.

"Fr. Des’ life was dedicated to helping people. During the terrible years of conflict, he stood with the Upper Springfield Road community against the aggression and violence of the British state forces.  He gave comfort and solidarity to those in need.

"On a personal note in 1971, after internment, Fr. Des married Colette and me while I was on the run.

"Despite his recent illness and age Fr. Des remained very conversant with the political and peace process. I visited him a few weeks ago and despite his poor health he was keen to learn of the most recent twists of the Brexit saga, efforts to get a power sharing government in place, and events in Leinster House.

"Fr. Des was a champion of the people and a visionary. We will miss him greatly. Especially in Springhill and Ballymurphy. To his family and wide circle of friends I want to extend my condolences."

The Pat Finucane Centre also paid tribute: "So sad to learn of the passing of Fr Des Wilson today. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

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