Distinguished career in police and politics

Barney Fitzpatrick.
Barney Fitzpatrick.

Barney Fitzpatrick provided 40 years’ service within the police and later entered politics as a respected councillor in Coleraine.

He was born in West Belfast and joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary, serving for 40 years and attaining the rank of Chief Superintendent.

He was also awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for professional police services to the public and was also holder of a Royal Humane Award for Bravery.

The senior police officer also received 11 commendations during his career for exceptional police work.

He achieved a Master’s Degree in Legal and Administrative studies incorporating European Law, from the University of Ulster, and also held a postgraduate diploma in Business Studies and Management.

Following a distinguished police career he entered politics as a member of the Alliance Party and was first elected to the Coleraine Borough Council in 2006, when he topped the poll in his ward.

He continued to serve as a councillor for the Causeway area in the new Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, capturing 10% of the votes cast in the ward in 2014 and taking his seat as the sole Alliance voice on the council.

Barney Fitzpatrick also served as a Harbour Commissioner for Coleraine and sat on a number of other Council Committees.

Cllr Fitzpatrick died in hospital on Saturday and had been in failing health.

Tributes have been paid to him across the political spectrum, with Alliance leader Naomi Long saying that Barney Fitzpatrick had served the community all his life, first as a police officer and latterly as a local councillor.

“Even over recent months in failing health, he continued to faithfully and diligently undertake his public duties at the Council,” she said. “He was a man of deep religious faith, who believed passionately in reconciliation and in healing the divisions in our community.

“Always gracious and generous in his dealings with others, he will be greatly missed by us all in the Alliance Party and by those with whom and for whom he worked on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council,” she said.

The chairman of the East Londonderry Alliance Association, Chris McCaw, said that the local councillor was someone who lived the values of Alliance. He reflected that as a police officer he had been wounded in the line of duty.

Mr McCaw said that Mr Fitzpatrick had chosen to work for a united community in Northern Ireland and sought to bring divided communities together.

Yvonne Boyle, who sat on Coleraine Borough Council as an Alliance representative with Mr Fitzpatrick, said that he was a committed councillor and provided a reassuring presence.

When Alliance was offered the Deputy Mayor post on the council in 2014, she said that her colleague had graciously stood aside and allowed her to take up the position.

SDLP MLA John Dallat also paid tribute, saying that he had known Cllr Fitzpatrick both as a police officer and a colleague on Coleraine Borough Council.

“In both capacities he was a gentleman, fair and courageous and his passing will be a serious loss not just to his wife and family but to the whole community,” Mr Dallat said.

Causeway Coast and Glens Mayor Joan Baird also said Mr Fitzpatrick ‘served the people of the area with unwavering diligence’.

“His presence will be greatly missed in the council chamber where his integrity and commitment to enhancing and promoting the borough were always to the fore,” the UUP representative said.

One of his last public appearances had been at the ceremony for the granting of the Freedom of the Borough to the Lord Lieutenant for County Londonderry, Sir Dennis Desmond.

Mr Fitzpatrick was buried following a funeral mass in St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church, Portstewart on Tuesday (May 9) and interment took place in Agherton Cemetery. Donations in lieu of flowers were to NI Chest, Heart and Stroke.

He is survived by his wife Theresa, daughters Una and Fiona, sons Sean and Brendan and grandchildren Marianne, Catherine, Casey and Eli.