SDLP founder O'Hanlon dies


Founding member of the SDLP Paddy O’Hanlon has died aged 65, the party has announced.

Mr O’Hanlon passed away in Dublin’s Mater Hospital following a short illness. Born in Drogheda, Co Louth, Mr O’Hanlon became a leading member of the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland in the 1960s.

He was elected to the Stormont parliament as an independent MP for South Armagh in 1969 and went on to found the SDLP with John Hume and others in the following year.

He was the SDLP chief whip at Stormont during the early 1970 before it was shut down and direct rule imposed.

He twice failed to get elected to political bodies at Stormont in the 1980s and quit active politics to qualify as a barrister.

SDLP Leader and Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “With the sad death of Paddy O’Hanlon we have lost a real champion of civil rights, justice and reconciliation. Paddy was one of the best orators of his generation, powerfully reflecting deep democratic convictions."

“He was part of that leadership class which choose non violence to challenge the injustice of the old Stormont regime, who rejected the violence of paramilitaries and repression of the state and who consistently espoused partnership as the only basis for sharing a peaceful future.”

Former SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume also paid tribute to Mr O’Hanlon. He said: “I am extremely saddened to learn of the death of my dear friend Paddy O’Hanlon.

“Together we were closely involved in the civil rights movement and in the foundation of the SDLP. Paddy was a key figure in the development of the power-sharing model which formed the basis of the Sunningdale

He described Mr O'Hanlon as true Irish patriot who expressed his love for his country through his love for its people.

SDLP Newry and Armagh Assembly Member Dominic Bradley said: “Paddy played an integral and inspirational role not only in the civil rights movement but later in the founding of the SDLP.

“He could rightly claim to be an instigator of the new politics of Ireland and was renowned for his dedication and devotion to peace,” he added.