SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has paid tribute to civil rights veteran and founding SDLP member Austin Currie on the news of his passing this evening.
The Foyle MP said:
“Austin Currie was a titan of the civil rights movement and one of the forefathers of our party. His housing protest in Caledon in 1968 was one of the key sparks for the civil rights campaign that followed and he spoke for a generation of young nationalists when he refused to allow his constituents to be treated as second class citizens anymore.
“His radical activism led him to join together with other young leaders and together they formed our party on the principles of a shared society where everyone got a fair shot at life, something so many of their contemporaries had been denied.
“Each time we lose a political giant like Austin we lose a piece of our history. While moments like this bring us great sadness, it also gives us the opportunity to celebrate the man and the huge contribution he made to politics in both the North and South of our island. It’s because of brave men and women like Austin who saw the way their community was being treated and refused to be silenced, that we all enjoy the freedoms and privileges we have today.
"My thoughts and the thoughts of all the SDLP family are with Austin’s wife Annita, their children Estelle, Caitriona, Dualta, Austin Og and Emer, and their wide circle of family and friends at this difficult time."