Tributes paid to Northern Ireland 'secret peacemaker' Brendan Duddy

He was seen as an important connection between the UK governemnt and the IRA

Tributes paid to Northern Ireland 'secret peacemaker' Brendan Duddy

2008 file photo of Brendan Duddy | Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

Tributes are being paid to Derry businessman Brendan Duddy, who has died aged 80.

Mr Duddy has been described as Northern Ireland's 'secret peacemaker', acting as a secret channel between the British government and the IRA leadership.

He was in regular contact with a senior British Intelligence agent during The Troubles, relaying messages between the two sides.

He was seen as the most important connection between then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the IRA during the 1981 hunger strikes.

Mr Duddy maintained his contact and attempted to get the British government to move before the situation worsened.

Codenamed 'The Mountain Climber', in 1991 he was able to bring Martin McGuinness and Michael Oatley together in a face-to-face meeting that later led to the development of the peace process.

NUI Galway's James Hardiman Library is home to the extensive archive of Mr Duddy's papers relating to the development of the peace process.

Speaking from the US on his passing, NUI Galway's President Dr Jim Browne, said: "History owes a great debt of gratitude to Brendan Duddy and his family.

"During the dark days in Northern Ireland, Brendan Duddy showed an unwavering courage and commitment to creating the conditions for peace on this island.

"On behalf of the University, I offer sincere condolences to the Duddy family.

"His legacy is that of an exemplary peacemaker whose contribution will be recognised over the coming years by the generations of scholars who will access the Brendan Duddy Archive."