02 June 2006

Mayor was political prisoner in 1971

Daily Ireland

Exclusive – City’s new SDLP lord mayor was interned in Long Kesh

by Ciarán Barnes

Belfast’s new SDLP lord mayor is a former political prisoner, Daily Ireland can reveal.
Pat McCarthy was locked up in 1971 for being an alleged member of the Official IRA.
He was interned without trial for 11 months in the Crumlin Road jail in Belfast and in Long Kesh prison.
The 53-year-old father of three last night became Belfast’s 114th lord mayor and only the fourth nationalist to wear the chain of office.
He saw off the challenge of Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín to be elected by 37 votes to 14.
The Democratic Unionist Party’s Ruth Patterson was elected to serve as his deputy.
Mr McCarthy told Daily Ireland he wanted to see Belfast grow during his time in office.
“I want the people of this great city to overcome their divisions,” said the SDLP councillor.
“I want to city grow and become a leading European capital.”
Mr McCarthy said he had no problem going to meet people in loyalist areas of Belfast. “My father was a merchant seaman who fought the Nazis.
“I still wear his medals proudly and I attend the Belfast cenotaph every year to remember those who died in the wars. “I have no problem bringing my message of peace to unionist areas. The people of this city have had a shared past and we can have a shared future,” said the new mayor, who is from the Markets area of south Belfast.
After leaving school at 15, Mr McCarthy went to work in the Belfast abattoir on Stewart Street. His weekly income was £5.
Following his release from prison in 1972, he threw himself into community work. He helped set up the Lower Ormeau Community Residents’ Association.
He got a job as a roofer before starting up his own construction business, which he still owns today.
Mr McCarthy has been married to his wife Angela since 1982.
They have three children — 22-year-old Christopher, 18-year-old Nuala and 16-year-old Declan.
Away from politics, Mr McCarthy enjoys breeding and raising greyhounds.

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