Paddy Joe McClean is one of those rare treasures that public life unearths once or twice in a generation and it was with great pleasure that we recently visited him and his wife Annie on the main street in Beragh, outside Omagh. Despite the devastating loss of their son Eamon earlier this year, we were received as always with warmth and courtesy. A founder of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, a teacher and a man who despite his experiences with the British army as one of the “Hooded Men” who were interned without trial during Operation Demetrius in August 1971 he has always been without any sense of bitterness towards either the British or the Unionist authorities from that time.
He never wavered from his conviction that violence did not dissolve the injustice that led to the divisions within Ireland or between Britain and Ireland. He always confirmed ‘the need to foster respect for the differences between traditions on the island of Ireland’.
For many of us in Glencree he was an inspirational thinker who brought credibility and experience to the contributions he made during the years of political dialogue through the 1990s and 2000s. He was laser-like in his ability to pierce through rhetoric and get to the nub of many dilemmas that perplexed political opinion during those years, yet was never harsh and condemnatory in his speech.
On behalf of us all at Glencree, we would like to express our deepest sympathy to him and Annie and the Mc Clean family on the death of their son Eamon during 2016.In the photo: Geoffrey Corry, Annie Mc Clean, Paddy Joe Mc Clean, Pat Hynes