Republican legend Francie Brolly has been honoured as a man of integrity following his sudden death. The 82-year-old died at his family home near Dungiven, County Derry in the early hours of Thursday. It is believed he may have suffered a heart attack.
A former republican internee, Mr Brolly was also a former inter-county Gaelic footballer with Derry. His son Joe won an All-Ireland medal with the county in 1993 and is a well-known commentator on Gaelic sports.
His daughter Áine said her family has been left devastated by his death, just hours after he had attended a grandson’s confirmation in Belfast.
“He had a huge impact, not just on the family but the whole Dungiven community and further afield,” she said.
“He was a great man of integrity and always true to himself. He had a great intellect and was a great thinker.”
She said the father-of-five and retired teacher was a “special person” who was loved deeply by his family. “He was a huge mentor to all of us,” she said.
Interned in 1972, Mr Brolly spent almost three years in Long Kesh before being released. He later wrote The H-Block Song, which includes the line “I’ll wear no convict’s uniform nor meekly serve my time”.
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Brolly was “a committed and dedicated Irish republican”.
“He was a fine political representative, a campaigner and a musician, and his passing will be deeply felt in his native Dungiven and further afield.”
He and his wife Anne Brolly left the party over its hardline support for abortion and were founding members of Aontú. Francie contested the local elections last May as an Aontú candidate.
Party leader Peadar Tóibín paid tribute to Francie as a longstanding republican who like others took a stand on an issue of principle.
He said that he had been a “strong and active elected representative for the people of East Derry, a man of faith and an Irish Republican who worked so hard for the unity of the Irish people.”
“He had a great warmth, political insight and he stood strongly for his principles. He was founding member of Aontú and his passing is a great loss to all of us.
“He worked so hard for the unity of the Irish people. He was a lovely man of great warmth and fun. He had tremendous political insight and he stood up for his principles. He was founding member of Aontú and his passing is a great loss to all of us.”
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.