Coming soon after so much painful reappraisal that accompanied the death and burial of Martin McGuinness, a tribute from Peter Taylor to a man who was unambiguously a peacemaker, as reported in the Irish Times.
Broadcaster Peter Taylor – who revealed Mr Duddy’s role as an intermediary between the IRA and the British government in a 2008 documentary – also said he believed the Derry businessman deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.
Brendan took many personal risks for peace,” Mr Taylor told mourners at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry, “and actually did put his life on the line”.
In 1974 “he was summoned to explain himself before the IRA’s army council and he was given a really hard time because they weren’t sure whether they could trust him or not. I remember him saying to me that, afterwards, he overheard them asking whether they should kill him as a suspected agent.”
In his eulogy, Mr Taylor told mourners that one of Mr Duddy’s greatest regrets was that he had been unable to end the 1981 hunger strikes, which led to the deaths of 10 men.
“I remember Brendan reading to me the communications he had received from Bobby Sands just before he died after 66 days on hunger strike.
It said, ‘to you and yours, may I be permitted to say a last goodbye, and if my passion is to mean anything may it mean peace and freedom for you and yours, and may I be permitted to say how much I appreciate all the efforts you’ve made on our behalf’. I remember Brendan choking and breaking down as he read that from Bobby Sands.”
Brendan’s legacy, and the legacy of Martin McGuinness too, is that the part that both of them – and many others – played in helping them bring about the peace we all enjoy today.
“It’s ironic that both Martin and Brendan passed away within weeks of each other, marking the end of an era in the eventual transition from war to peace. Brendan’s contribution to that evolution is incalculable, and it is only just being belatedly recognised, and rightly so. John Hume and David Trimble deserved the Nobel Peace Prize but Brendan Duddy deserved it too.”
The State and government were represented by aides to President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.
A Northern Ireland Office spokesperson said no UK government representatives were at the funeral. But Michael Oatley, a former MI6 spy, who acted as Mr Duddy’s conduit to the British government, was among mourners.
Proof there that Irish politicians have longer memories than the British? They certainly have greater continuity.
First Derry Rev Presbyterian minister Rev David Latimer also paid public tribute to Mr Duddy’s peacemaking efforts for and urged people in Northern Ireland to work together before it is too late.
He said: “We have suffered together and felt pain together, we now need to move forward together – for we all belong to this place.
“There can be no going back because we have come too far. Work together before it is too late.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London