Death of Brendan Duddy
Death of Brendan Duddy


A Derry businessman who acted as a secret communication channel between British military intelligence and elements of the IRA leadership has died at the age of 82.

Brendan Duddy, who died on Friday night following a long illness, has been described by British officials as “key” to decades of contacts between IRA chiefs and MI5/MI6.

As the owner of a fish and chip shop in the 1960s, Mr Duddy met a young McGuinness, then working as a van driver for a firm of butchers. Their meeting established a relationship that endured throughout the next 40 years after McGuinness became a leading IRA figure, and helped to crystallise the modern peace process.

Following the outbreak of the conflict, Mr Duddy, an avowed pacifist, worked closely with the IRA leadership and British authorities to try and end the IRA’s armed campaign. Later he played a major role during the negotiations around the 1981 Hunger Strikes.

However, it was through his ‘back-channel’ contacta with British MI6 agent, Michael Oatley that he became a vital part of the modern peace process. In 1991, he hosted talks between Mr Oatley and Mr McGuinness.

The meeting advanced negotiations between the British government and the IRA, with Mr Duddy as a go-between, which helped create the groundwork for the IRA’s 1994 ceasefire and ultimately the Good Friday Agreement.

He faced considerable dangers, not least one incident in 1993, when he was accused of passing on a bogus IRA message of surrender to the British government. His involvement declined as IRA suspicions grew over his activities.

Mr Duddy continued observing the peace process closely, sending commentary and preparing strategy papers for Martin McGuinness.

Paying tribute, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said Mr Duddy “played his part and will be fondly remembered”.

Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion also expressed her condolences. “He played a significant role in the development of the peace process over many years and his contribution, together with others, helped end the conflict and promoted reconciliation,” she said.

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