Northern Ireland

PA Maglochlainn, NI gay rights campaigner, dies after illness

PA Maglochlainn
Image caption PA Maglochlainn died in hospital on Wednesday afternoon

PA Maglochlainn, the well-known gay rights campaigner from Londonderry, has died. He had been receiving hospital treatment for a long-term illness.

Mr Maglochlainn was the president of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA) for 20 years and frequently appeared on local TV and radio.

As a member of the SDLP, he became the first openly gay representative to sit on a NI political party's executive.

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell expressed "deep sadness" at the passing of his long standing friend.

"The loss of such a fondly held party stalwart will be heavily felt across the SDLP," he said.

"PA was a committed SDLP volunteer in Mid Ulster before coming to South Belfast where, up until a few weeks ago, he volunteered every Thursday as a constituency advisor in my Finaghy office.

"I wish to extend my deep sympathy to PA's partner Barry and to the wider Maglochlainn family. PA was a courageous and passionate person who stood up for what he believed in. He will be sorely missed."

Paying tribute, SDLP MLA Conal McDevitt said he was "trailblazer for equality".

Writing on his Twitter account, Mr McDevitt described the campaigner as a great colleague and "a proud gay man".

Mr Maglochlainn was a former teacher who first became involved with NIGRA over two decades ago.

Last year, he was honoured for his contribution to the Belfast Pride movement.

The award was presented by NIGRA's founder and treasurer, Jeff Dudgeon, who described him as a "tireless campaigner" who was "outspoken, eccentric" and had a "huge personality".

In a speech, Mr Dudgeon said his colleague "fought long and hard for many of the rights we now take for granted".