Voice of ‘moderate nationalism’ dies

A LEADING member of the SDLP and former Chairman of Magherafelt District Council, Paddy Heron, has died. He was 78.

Mr Heron, a native of Draperstown, died peacefully at Foyle Hospice after a long illness.

As well as being a successful businessman, he was active in the SDLP for almost 40 years. He served as Chair of the Council back in 1973 - at the time of local Government reorganisation. He also chaired the SDLP’s South Derry constituency grouping and was active within the party until he took ill.

Paying tribute, Councillor Kate Lagan said his death at the weekend came as a shock.

“Although unwell for some time the news of Paddy Heron’s death came as a shock to us all in the local SDLP. Paddy had so many comebacks that you always expected him to bounce back yet again That was the Paddy that we knew and loved. May he rest in peace,” she said today.

“To say that Paddy was a man of action would be an understatement. He mastered most things in life that he set his mind to - and he set his mind to much.

“As a politician he articulated the voice of moderate Nationalism at a time in Magherafelt Council when that was not an easy thing to do. He was the heart and soul of the Civil Rights Movement in South Derry after leaving the Council.

“He always sought solutions to problems rather than complaining or agonizing about them. It is with great sadness that we must bid farewell to a kind and loving man and above all a great and faithful friend.”

SDLP Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone also paid tribute to Mr Heron.

“Paddy was a man who gave tremendously: as a committed GAA player for Club and County, then Civil Rights activist, then though the SDLP as local Councillor and Officer of the Mid-Ulster Constituency - a man dedicated to Country and community,” said Mr McGlone.

“Paddy was a genuine friend and political mentor to many, myself included - ar LámhDheis Dé go raibh a anam fíordhílis.”

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