- 26 Jun 19
One of the leading civil rights leaders, Ivan Cooper, has passed away.
Ivan Cooper was one of the leading figures in the Northern Irish Civil Rights Association, which campaigned for equality in numerous areas, including housing, throughout the '60s.
Ivan also became one of the founding members of the SDLP in 1970, alongside Gerry Fitt and John Hume. At the time, he had been elected as an Independent MP for Mid-Derry.
He became known for leading the January 30 1972 anti-internment march, which developed into the Bloody Sunday Massacre, when British soldiers shot 13 innocent people dead.
In the 1980s, Ivan Cooper moved away from politics and worked as an insolvency consultant.
According to reports, he died in hospital on Wednesday morning, aged 75.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also issued a statement on the party's website, paying tribute to Ivan Cooper:
“Ivan Cooper was born to break the mould. A working class Protestant man who saw a common injustice and inequality that had taken root in Protestant and Catholic communities, he dedicated his life to fighting it.
“As an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement, few have contributed as much to peace and equality on this island than Ivan. Organising marches in Derry for the right to a home, the right to a job and the right to a vote, Ivan often put himself in the path of danger to secure justice for people in every community. And on many occasions that meant that he suffered vilification and violence for his convictions. It never stopped him. Alongside his close friend John Hume, he helped blaze the trail on the path that led to the Good Friday Agreement.
“Anyone who knew Ivan knows that his selfless passion for justice continued to burn brightly into his later years. His unwavering belief that people on this island should come together to fight for common ideals and in their common interest is a lesson for us all. Especially as we face political division today.
“A man of sharp contrasts, sharp intellect and, it must be said, sharp tongue, he stands as a giant in the story of this island. And he holds a special place in the hearts of SDLP members.
“I want to express my deepest sympathies to Ivan’s wife Francis, his daughters Sinead and Bronagh and his entire family circle at this difficult time.