Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin T.D. pays tribute to the SDLP founder member Paddy O'Hanlon

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin T.D. pays tribute to the SDLP founder member Paddy O'Hanlon

 

Paddy O'Hanlon who died yesterday, was one of that remarkable band of men which included John Hume, Austin Currie and Gerry Fitt who took the pivotal step in 1970 of coming together and founding the SDLP. The personal courage and commitment of people like Paddy O'Hanlon, who was active in the earliest campaigns for civil rights in the late 1960s and who continued to fight for change through constitutional politics throughout the darkest days of the troubles, are the true foundations for the fundamental changes in Northern Ireland.  Paddy recoiled at injustice and remained a formidable campaigner throughout his lifetime for human rights.

In 2001 at the invitation of the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, Paddy undertook to chair a task force to examine our policy regarding Irish emigrants. His wide ranging and ambitious report has formed the blueprint for my Department's policy on emigrants which has seen our funding support for Ireland's emigrant community grow from  €3million in 2003 to €15.1 million last year. Paddy was passionate in his desire to strengthen links between this country and those of Irish extraction abroad. He felt a particular affinity with those who migrated in the 1950s and 60s, many of whom fell on hard times. Throughout the years since the establishment of the Irish Abroad Unit, Paddy was always available to offer sound advice and counsel to the Unit on matters relating to the Diaspora. He will be sorely missed.

I want to extend my deepest sympathy to Paddy's family and to the SDLP on their sad loss. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.

Ends+++

8 April 2009

Press Office

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