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Date Posted: 08:31:22 06/20/04 Sun
Author: An Appreciation
Subject: The Late 'Red Mickey' Doherty
In reply to: Irish News 's message, "The Late 'Red Mickey' & Bloody Sunday" on 08:15:02 06/20/04 Sun

An Appreciation

The shock of "Red" Mickey Doherty's death was not lessened by the knowledge that he had been ill for some months. He died in Altnagelvin Hospital at twenty past eight on Monday evening, 12 May. [20003]

The tall ungainly figure of "Red" Mickey was known to many, in Derry, but also in Britain, France, in Spain and in the United of America. He was, for most of his life, an uncompromising Marxist, Internationalist and Republican socialist revolutionary who took an active part in the struggle against discrimination, bigotry and exploitation in whatever form and in the many situations in which he found himself at home or abroad.

He was born at 15 Wellington Street, in what has become known as the heart of the Bogside to Molly and William (Budgem) Doherty, a bookmaker - both now deceased. He was 58 years old. It was never fully clear whether his nickname was attributed to the colour of his hair, which in it's time was a fiery wine colour, or to the nature of his political sympathies, which were fiercely socialist, but he will always be known to those who knew him best, as "Red" Mickey.

His wide experience of life would see him as a shop steward in Mollins Factory, as a worker in Ben Shermin's shirt factory, as a market trader and as a grape and fruit picker in the fields of southern France. His belief in equality was aptly expressed in his greeting of everyone regardless of stature or situation, as "Kid".

He was a most generous and benevolent man, not only because of the political direction in which his humanism would bring him, but also because - as his many friends would testify - he gave to those who were most in need. As a market trader, he freely gave toys; clothes and many other items to anyone who had a hard-luck story especially in the most difficult of periods such as Christmas, birthdays and Easter. There was many a comrade 'on-the run' during the most challenging periods of the seventies whose children received presents because of his generosity.

But it is as a socialist revolutionary that "Red" Mickey will be most remembered to those who knew him intimately. He was one of the first to join the Civil Rights Association in the early days of the campaign to call a halt to religious and political bigotry in the six counties and joined the Derry Labour Party Young Socialists in an attempt to address what he believed was the problem of sectarianism amongst ordinary working people in this city. He marched from Belfast to Dublin alongside the Young Socialists and the Peoples' Democracy, joined the demonstrations against Apartheid, involved himself in 'fish-ins' and helped form co-operatives in "Free Derry" in the days of the barricades long before the emergence of a "Community" Movement. His home in Wellington Street became a popular centre in 1969, not only because of the active support for civil rights amongst members of the Doherty family, but also, by coincidence, it was the only home which had a telephone. It became a hive of activity with revolutionaries, press and politicians rubbing shoulders in its narrow corridors and tiny rooms.

The armed attacks by the RUC and British Army on the nationalist community resulted in him making the decision to become a member of the Official Republican Movement and in due course the IRSP because of his strong conviction that it was only through a recognition of the importance of the link between the national question and the class struggle, that a final solution to the problem of sectarianism in the North could ultimately be resolved. Insofar as this was an expression of Mick's world - view, he would have described himself as a Connolly socialist. His activity in defence of that community, which would result in serious personal injury, was an extension of that commitment. He was a candidate in the 1973 local government elections as a socialist republican. Eventually he would represent his city on the Ard Comhairle of both Republican organisations, at different times, until he eventually retired from active politics.

Mickey will always be remembered by his family and friends, not only because of his political legacy - his vigorous opposition to bigotry and hypocrisy - but also because of his humour, his cute sense of the value of humanity as well as the awesome span of his intellect. He leaves behind his brothers Jim, Liam, Sammy and Martin and his sister Sadie and the many members of their families. His brother Tony died recently in the United States and his other sister Marion was killed in a tragic accident in Fahan in 1972. He also leaves a grieving circle of comrades and friends whose lives will never sparkle in quite the same way again.

(Taken from the Derry News)

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