Respected Derry republican who opposed continued armed struggle


BRIAN MCFADDEN:BRIAN McFADDEN, who has died in his native Derry, was a former republican prisoner who stood up to Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) and the Real IRA. He did so because he opposed injustice, from republicans as much as from the security forces.

Before his death, he had drawn up a message to RAAD to be read at his funeral: “Stand back and ask yourselves how such action could ever further Irish reunification; such actions serve only the nefarious forces of Partition.”

McFadden came from one of Derry’s most prominent republican families. His father, Barney, had been interned, spent a long period on remand and had been a Sinn Féin councillor. His mother Róisín (née Mellon) was also republican; several of her family had been imprisoned over the years. The family lived on Stanley’s Walk in the heart of the Bogside.

It was inevitable that he would be caught up in the upheavals of the early 1970s. He was interned and served long periods as a remand prisoner. In recent years, he became a “dissident”, disillusioned with the path taken by the mainstream republican movement. However, he opposed continued armed struggle: he strongly believed the IRA should have called a ceasefire long before 1994.

McFadden showed moral and physical courage when the Real IRA murdered former republican prisoner Kieran Doherty in February 2010. The murderers made unsubstantiated allegations against Doherty and McFadden was one of the first to go to show solidarity with the family.

As Doherty’s coffin was carried from their house, McFadden stepped forward and placed a Tricolour on it. The meaning was clear: Doherty was still part of the republican family, the Real IRA’s action was unjustifiable.

The dissident Republican Network for Unity expelled him for the gesture. In the aftermath, McFadden helped Derry Trades Council organise a protest against the murder.

Despite suffering terminal cancer, he campaigned against RAAD which had carried out punishment shootings on two of his nephews. Last month he spoke up against its attempts to extort money from a small businessman.

He also highlighted Derry’s drink and drugs problem, calling for a proper drugs detox centre after his son Emmet died of a drug overdose.

McFadden left St Joseph’s Secondary School at 15 and worked as a bricklayer. Physically he was a big man, straight and blunt in speech. He was highly respected in Derry’s republican community and over the years, he made great sacrifices for his beliefs.

Despite all the backbiting produced by division among republicans, nobody accused him of taking a political stance because he would materially gain from it.

He was predeceased by his daughter Christina, son Emmet, and brothers John and Eamonn. He is survived by his wife Martina; his daughters Kelly and Áine; his sons Bernard, Kevin, Séamus, Rory and Seán; and by his grandchildren.

Brian McFadden: born November 14th, 1953; died June 1st, 2012.