Tributes flood in from across the country for Brendan Bradley, who died on Monday of this week

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Mina Wardle, Director of Shankill Stress and Trauma Centre
“If there’s one tribute we would have, is that he gave us so much support. We were both members of a group, which advised the government and the then Minister Adam Ingram from a victims’ perspective, between 1998 to 2000.
“We represented both areas, and we knew that we didn’t want a hierarchy of victims, so from when I first met Brendan I knew there was an affinity there already.
“He was the first person to have the names of the 4,000 people who had died in the conflict, from both communities on all sides. I thought he was very brave.
“He was so au fait with all the issues working-class people had. Brendan accepted everybody for what they were and he reached out to all communities. He was most definitely a one-off.
“His own troubles I think spurred him on, he knew what victimhood was at first hand.
“And he spoke with great authority of what people suffered and he knew all the issues and problems they faced.
“Survivors of Trauma is a great tribute to Brendan in that it went from a very small group to such a well-respected and listened-to body.
“We have lots of calls from people asking about Brendan from across the community. I think he’s left a lovely legacy for his own children.
“He never broke faith with his own community and yet he understood street politics and could represent all victims, all at the same time.
“Brendan is one of those special people that you don’t meet very often. In January 2004 at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Brendan told his own story and it was so poignant.
“We’d heard Brendan’s story before, but we’d never heard it that way before.
“He told his own family journey in such a way that everyone identified with it. He touched the hearts of an awful lot of people. I will miss him, and our group will miss him terribly.”

TRIBUTE BY: Staff at Survivors of Trauma
“Working with Brad was both enjoyable and challenging. He had so many ideas for the work he carried out in the centre and also for the wider community. Some were small things with a big impact others were huge like training up young people in construction to build homes in the community.
“We would often feel that we were working with the scarlet pimpernel – one minute you would see him, the next he was away to one of the many meetings he attended.
“In the mornings he opened the centre and put the kettle on and as soon as we came in he would say “tea or coffee love”. It was a nice way to start the day.
“This would follow with a lengthy lighthearted discussion on the recent news stories and what was going on in the community. A couple of cuppas later and the vocal chords were well lubricated we each would go about our jobs with much slagging and banter – mostly from the man himself.
“Brad greeted everyone who came into the centre with a smile and made them feel at home. No one left feeling unwanted and many returned.
“He would sit in the coffee area and tell stories about everything under the sun all with a joke and a smile. There were times when he was even a clairvoyant, but only to the unsuspecting which give people a lot of laughs.
“You rarely ever saw him without a film or TV crew, groups of students or professionals listening intently to the stories of his life and the many views he had about the society he lived in.
“He knew about everyone in North Belfast who had died as a direct result of the conflict and spoke of them all with compassion – they were more than just a name on the memorial – they were people who had a life and a family.
“We were not just people who worked together we were friends who laughed together, cried together, fought together and Brad was the glue that held us all together.”

TRIBUTE BY: Pat Convery
“Brendan Bradley was a man who was deeply concerned for his family and community as well as being a friend to all who asked for help.
“I am glad that I met Brendan and over the years we developed a good and positive friendship while working together on various projects especially the Survivors project from the beginning and through to its conclusion.
“Yes like everyone else we had our differences and disagreements but he was always prepared to talk to you the next day and everyone who required help was treated equally without favour.
“One thing that his family can be proud of was that he was prepared to be different regardless of any criticism and he was able to fit in to any situation whether it was meeting a government minister or talking to residents in the local community.
“It is regrettable that his untimely death will have left many of his ideas incomplete.
“I would like to pass on my condolences and that of my family to his wife Rosaleen and family circle and to say that it was a privilege to have known and worked with Brendan.
“I have lost a true friend.”

Michael Liggett, Ardoyne Focus Group
“Where do you begin to try and write a tribute to Brad? The shock of his sudden death will only be apparent from his absence at committee meetings or when you need him to give you a lift or to be that much-needed presence when negotiating or mediating. Brad was an all rounder.
“We worked together on building sites, learned music and the Irish language together. We stood together in the pouring rain collecting for Conradh na Gaeilge.
“He was there when the Brits and peelers used to hassle young men and women on the streets of Ardoyne. He even showed us how not to be bullied by them.
“There were good times as well. I remember him enjoying himself as he shared the stage with Shebeen or even as he played the fiddle or bodhran at a session. Or even the day he got drunk at my wedding. He enjoyed people and his greatest ability was organising.
“The campaigns he was involved with are countless and his profile as a community leader is without blemish. Brad got involved with the Ardoyne Fleadh from its inception. His involvement with the Fleadh helped him realise the importance of organising the community, an activity which he continued to the best of his ability right up to his untimely death.
“He had been in bad health but numerous scares with his heart never slowed his determination to get a good deal for the community.
“The shock of his parting still hasn’t sunk in. While he will be greatly missed by us all, his imprint on the entire district will be with us for many years to come.”

President of Ireland pays tribute to “good friend”
The President of Ireland Mary McAleese has sent a message of heartfelt condolences to the family of Brendan Bradley.
Describing Brendan as her good friend, the Ardoyne born President praised his life-long commitment to cross-community work in Belfast's interface areas.
“Work of this kind is often the toughest and the stresses and strains, unimaginable,” said an t-Uachtarán.
The President of Ireland was unable to attend the funeral at Holy Cross on Thursday morning but she sent an aide-de-camp Captain Lorraine Fahy to represent her office. President McAleese paid a visit to the Community Development Centre on the Cliftonville Road in February 2000 which Brendan was chairperson of.
During that meeting, the President along with her husband Martin met with community workers to discuss ways in which the community sector was helping society recover from the trauma of the past 30 years.
She praised people like Brendan Bradley who pioneered cross-community efforts and peace-building projects.
“People like Brendan and countless others had the vision and imagination to see that we could obliterate the win-lose ethic of the past and replace it with a new generous doctrine of trust, respect and reconciliation,” Mary McAleese said at the time.
This week, President McAleese also conveyed her sympathies to all those organisations with which Brendan Bradley was involved.

TRIBUTE BY: Holy Cross Priest Fr Gary Donegan
“Brendan was one of those people who realised how important the themes of suffering and victimhood really were. Considering the personal pain he and his family went through, Brendan threw himself into it even though some would have avoided it.
“He was very level headed about everything and many thought he was older than what he was. His wisdom will be greatly missed as will his maturity in tackling sensitive matters and the underlying trauma.
“He was involved in bringing consolation to others, even though he lost his own nephew through suicide. Determined to highlight the issue, he got involved in lots of work with young people with groups across the area.
“He was a real friend in every way, and he had a dry sense of humour which had people in stitches. When I first arrived at Holy Cross, there had been violence on Alliance Avenue and even in the midst of great diversity, and the area being riddled with gun fire, there was great humour.
“The fact that the President is sending a representative shows the esteem in which Brendan was held. People from the Shankill and his own community have been paying tribute ever since the word spread about his untimely death. Brendan transcended all of the barriers life throws at us here and instead threw his life into reconciliation. He was an example to all of us.”

Reverend Bill Shaw
“I’m still trying to come to terms with Brendan’s sudden death and like so many people I’ve talked with in the last couple of days – people who knew him better and longer than me – have my own thoughts about the sort of man he was. Everything I’ve heard merely confirms my own ‘first impressions’.
“I had met Brendan not long after I started 174 Trust at a meeting – can’t remember now what it was about because he, like me, was involved in so many different and diverse initiatives.
“I continued to bump into him over the years – particularly in connection with the negotiations around the Holy Cross dispute – and came to know him as someone who refused to allow personal tragedy and hurt to embitter him but was always willing to work with anyone and everyone to improve things for those he represented – often people struggling to cope with their own pain.
“Brendan will be sorely missed by all those working to make this part of our city a better place.”

Sinn Féin MLA Kathy Stanton
“Brad was a dedicated and committed person the proof of which was reflected in the work he carried out without hesitation in his community and beyond.
“Brad not only spoke the word inclusiveness but also genuinely practised what he preached. He made contacts and spoke passionately about his people at a period during the conflict when all others demonised our community.
“His courage shone through at all times to ensure all working-class people had a voice and could bring about the true meaning to the words ‘a better quality of life’.
“Personally he will be a hard person to replace and I wish to extend my sympathy to his wife and children on their great loss.
“Thankfully they will have treasured memories of their father and husband who contributed greatly not only for the betterment of their lives and for all who knew him but for the people in North Belfast, especially those who suffered the ultimate price of losing their loved ones.
“I am proud to have worked with him and will never forget the sincere and committed man he was.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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