17 June 2005

Belfast Telegraph

Bloody Sunday 'hero' is dead

By Brendan McDaid
17 June 2005

The family of a marcher who famously ducked bullets as he tried in vain to save a friend on Bloody Sunday today paid tribute to the man hailed as a hero during the Saville Inquiry.

The daughters of Paddy Walsh (70), from Rathlin Drive, described their father as a "big dote".

Mr Walsh, who had suffered from bowel cancer four years ago, died yesterday at his home.

The Creggan man's testimony before the Saville Inquiry in November 2001 was among the most vivid eyewitness accounts of what happened in the Bogside on January 30, 1972.

He described how he crawled from cover to help his friend Paddy Doherty, who was bleeding after being shot by soldiers.

Famous photographs at the time showed him crawling up to Mr Doherty as he lay prostrate.

Mr Walsh said he at first thought Mr Doherty must have been armed, otherwise he would not have been shot.

He added, however that after checking every pocket of the fatally wounded man, he found him unarmed.

Mr Walsh also explained how shots were fired as he tried to help Mr Doherty.

At the hearing into the events that led to the deaths of 14 men, a barrister representing Mr Doherty's family praised Mr Walsh for his heroism, while a solicitor representing the soldiers said he saluted Mr Walsh for his courage and compassion.

Mr Walsh's daughters, Vivienne Walsh and Ann Grant, today said their father's bravery on the day was a mark of the man.

Ms Grant said: "He was well known after Bloody Sunday. Everybody in the Creggan, Bogside and Brandywell knew him.

"He was a big gentle giant who loved football. He was the North west Penalty Kick Champion of 1959 and his heroes were George Best and Paul Gascoigne."

Her sister Ms Walsh added: "The actions he took on Bloody Sunday, that's the kind of man he was, trying to help people. He was a big dote."

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness MP today also expressed his sadness.

Describing Mr Walsh as a hero, Mr McGuinness said: "I was saddened to hear of the death of Paddy Walsh, an ordinary man who displayed extraordinary courage in the face of grave danger in an attempt to save another Derryman, Paddy Doherty, on Bloody Sunday.

"I knew and admired Paddy for many years and consider him to be one of the most unassuming but courageous people that I was fortunate to have known.

Mr Walsh's funeral will take place on Saturday at St Mary's Chapel in Creggan at 11am with internment immediately afterwards in the city cemetery.

He is survived by his wife Anna, and children Brian, Patricia, Vivienne, Anne and Yvonne.

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