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Human rights solicitor Pat Fahy dies

TRIBUTES have been paid to human rights solicitor and political activist Patrick (Pat) Fahy who died on Thursday evening after a short illness.

Mr Fahy, from Drumquin, passed away peacefully in the Palliative Care Ward at Omagh Hospital surrounded by family members.

For more than 50 years he practised as a solicitor until he became ill.

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Mr Fahy took on many high profile cases campaigning for the truth about killings in the North during the Troubles. Ongoing cases included representing the families of Trillick councillor Patsy Kelly who was murdered by loyalists, in collusion with the security forces, in 1974 and Paddy McElhone, a 23-year-old unarmed Pomeroy man shot dead by the British Army, also in 1974.

Educated in Omagh CBS before going to Queen’s University, Mr Fahy graduated in 1967. His entrance into law in the late 1960s coincided with the civil rights campaign across the North and he chaired the Omagh Civil Rights Committee.

In September 1970, after three years serving as an apprentice in Derry, Mr Fahy completed a finishing certificate and rented an office on John Street in Omagh. It is now a thriving law firm with sister offices in Dungannon and Enniskillen.

In 2014 Mr Fahy achieved a doctorate in human rights, an award he described as “one of the most uplifting experiences of my life.”

A member of Sinn Féin, Mr Fahy was election agent for candidates in Stormont and Westminster elections, including Pat Doherty when he took the West Tyrone seat for the party for the first time in 2001.

Outside of work, Mr Fahy’s passion was his native Drumquin, Gaelic games and culture. He played for Tyrone minors in 1961 and 1962 and served as chairman of the local Wolfe Tones GAA club in Drumquin. He was also a passionate follower of the Tyrone team.

Sinn Féin vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, said Mr Fahy’s contribution to republican politics and community life “will be sorely missed.”

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“Pat Fahy was a long-standing republican and Sinn Féin activist going back many years,” she said. “He served as election agent for Pat Doherty, former Sinn Féin MP and was central to building and developing the Sinn Féin party organisation in West Tyrone.

“He provided legal representation to many nationalists and republicans throughout the conflict and campaigned for truth and justice in many legacy cases since.

“On behalf of the Sinn Féin leadership I wish to offer our sincere sympathy, condolences and solidarity at this time to Pat’s family, and his many friends throughout Tyrone and across Ireland.”

Also paying tribute to Mr Fahy, the Relatives 4 Justice group described him as a “friend to many who faced injustice and ill treatment.”

“We are deeply sorry to hear the news of the passing of Pat Fahy, solicitor,” said a spokesperson.

“Pat was a friend to many who faced injustice and ill treatment. He stood up when it was unpopular and dangerous.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”

A statement released by Adrian O’Kane, of Patrick Fahy and Co Solicitors, read, “For 50 years Patrick Fahy practised as a solicitor in John Street, Omagh. He represented his clients with distinction, ensuring that their rights were defended. To his very final days in Palliative Care, Omagh, where he was receiving the very best of attention, Pat was asking about this case or the other. Whether life, law, politics or GAA, Patrick Fahy was sure to commit himself to the last”.

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