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Date Posted: 08:46:09 06/20/04 Sun
Author: Derry News reporter
Subject: 'Red Mickey' Doherty
In reply to:
's message, "The Late 'Red Mickey' Doherty" on 08:31:22 06/20/04 Sun
Michael 'Red Mickey' was a legendary figure in the Socialist Republican movement in Derry. Tales of his exploits have made it into contemporary folklore but it was for his generosity and passion for the cause that he is remembered by his comrades and friends.
A former member of the Official IRA and the IRSP, Doherty was described as "a dedicated Connolly Socialist" who was not shy of expressing opinions however unpopular or radical they may have been.
Michael Doherty died at 8.20 PM on Monday 12 May, in Altnagelvin Hospital at the age of 58 as a result of a long illness. The last few years of his turbulent life inflicted a heavy toll on Doherty and his gangling figure was seen less and less roving the streets of his beloved Derry.
Born at 15 Wellington Street to Molly and William 'Budgem' Doherty, Michael Doherty's first taste of politics was as a member of the Derry Young Socialists and the Civil Rights Association.
Friend and comrade, Eamonn Mc Cann recalls the young Doherty: "I think he was a born socialist, before he even knew what the word meant. I don't recall when I first became aware of him, but I always knew the Doherty Clan. He was a couple of years younger than me but I knew him from our early teens onwards.
"He was a Young Socialist and member of the Derry Labour Party before joining the RSM. One of the things a lot of people might not know about 'Red' Mickey was that he was very well read. He knew all the arguments.
" I spent many a night arguing and talking into the small hours with him about Social History. He had a very shambling gait and was well over six-foot, which perhaps belied the fact. He could come across more as a man of action."
" He had a very low tolerance for bullshit and was very sensitive to people shooting their mouths off about socialism but doing nothing about it."
There were escapades aplenty involving Red Mickey, says Mc Cann, some of which can be talked about more than others.
"He was always full of mischief," he recalls. " I would say constructive mischief. In the days of running wild in Donegal not many people ran wilder than Mickey. But what I really remember about him was that he was incredibly generous, both with his time and financially.
"If you needed someone picked up from Dublin Airport you could ask Mickey and he would there and collect them and bring them back.
"Also, coming from a background of the markets he had that 'easy come, easy go ' attitude to money. When he was flush and needed a lend of £50, and these were the days when £50 was worth something, you knew you could ask him and if he could he would help."
Sean Boyle, a former Republican Prisoner, also attests to the generosity and loyalty of his former comrade.
"When volunteers where inside Mickey would always help out their families, whether it be presents for the children, money or food," he says.
"I remember on my wedding day he came up to me and put his wage packet in my pocket, and that was the kind of man he was."
For my own part I knew 'Red Mickey' only slightly, but it was clear from the regard in which he was held that he was a very significant figure in the revolutionary struggle of this city and beyond.
In my early days as a reporter, I had filed a story after he was mentioned by a witness on the stand at the Saville Inquiry.
Mickey let me know in no uncertain terms what he thought of my journalistic abilities in a vitriolic tirade. It was not an experience that I will forget.
But, as attested to above Mickey Doherty was a man of principle. Some months after the incident he approached me and apologised.
"I've been reading your stuff," he said. "You're no Eamonn Mc Cann but your hearts in the right place so I'll let you off if you make a few f*** - ups.
AN ARTICLE BY Paddy Mc Guffin
(As published in the Derry News)
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