Businessman who helped ease parade tensions in Derry

Sat, Jun 13, 2009, 01:00

Ian Young:DERRY BUSINESSMAN Ian Young, who has died after a prolonged illness, lived according to a principle he inherited from his late father: the family business had got so much out of the city, he had a duty to put something back in.

Young's contribution was most public in the 1990s on the thorny issue of parades by the Loyal Orders, and the nationalist objections they provoked. In Derry, the violence and stand-offs were causing major difficulties for businesses in the city centre.

He and other businessmen helped to broker a deal between Apprentice Boys and the Bogside Residents' Group. He was very much acceptable to both sides.

His suggestion in 1997 that the Apprentice Boys' parade become a festival has not yet been reached, but the violence that accompanied parades in the 1990s is now a distant memory.

The Northern Ireland Assembly's Speaker, William Hay, was at the time a spokesman for Apprentice Boys. "Ian was a very successful businessman, he didn't need to be involved," Hay said. "He saw that if the controversy continued the business life of the city would wind down. Those were difficult years. We had the Drumcree situation. With Ian's initiative, the city's at a better place than it was in those years."

Ian also played an important role in the regeneration of Derry's economy, and especially its city centre.

He served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, and worked closely with John Hume to attract inward investment, particularly through the Derry-Boston Ventures.

His civic responsibility was reflected in charity work. He was vice-chairman of the Children's Friendship Project NI, which brought teenagers from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds to America.

Ian was born in 1946 on Derry's Cityside, the ninth of 10 children, to James Young, an electrician from Donegal, and Martha (née Doherty) from the working-class Protestant area of the Fountain. He was educated at Templemore Secondary Intermediate School and Londonderry Technical College (now the Northwest Regional College).

He qualified as an electrician and took over a small family firm from his father, developing it into a sizeable company.

He knew tragedy when his son Graeme died at 17 during a rugby game due to an undetected heart condition. He is survived by his wife Margaret, son Mark, daughter Tracey (Sweeney), and grandchildren Patrick and Graeme, his four sisters and two brothers.

Ian Young: born April 1st, 1946; died May 29th, 2009