Former Alliance councillor will be greatly missed far beyond the party he loved (South Belfast News)
Former Castlereagh councillor and founder member of the Alliance Party, Patrick Mitchell, died suddenly earlier this month.
Patrick was born in Belfast 1929 and educated at REAl and
Queen’s University. He became a teacher, finishing his career at
Lisnagarvey High School, where he taught geography. Tragically his
beloved wife, Lorna died the year after his retirement in 1988.
Patrick helped to found the Alliance Party, in whose
principles he passionately believed, and stood for Alliance as a
candidate for Castlereagh Borough Council. He was elected and was a
councillor and later alderman for 12 years.
During those years, Castlereagh became notorious as one of the most staunchly Unionist councils in Northern Ireland.
Patrick, who believed in equality for all, often experienced
verbal abuse from his DUP and Unionist colleagues, but gave as good as
he got. On one occasion he was escorted from the council by police for
standing by the principles of the Alliance Party.
Although basically a shy and retiring man, he was very
courageous and despite abuse and even threats, he was resolute in
standing up for what he believed in. When he retired
from the council, Patrick threw himself into helping Alliance in other ways.
He edited the Castlereagh Clarion, the local Alliance News
sheet, wrote letters to the media on behalf of the Party and
contributed to the paper, usually anonymously. He spent much time
leafleting, not only in his own area.
He took on the jobs of election organiser and candidate’s agent. He canvassed everywhere he could. Nothing was too much trouble to him so far as Alliance was concerned.
With the reorganisation of electoral boundaries he became an
active committee member of South Belfast and recently sat on the party
finance committee. He was pleased to be a vice president of the party.
Outside the party, Patrick had a multitude of friends, as was
obvious at his funeral service. An avid classical music fan, he was a
regular sight at illster Orchestra Concerts.
He was also active in his parish church and Chairman of the
Braniel Youth Club, this at an age when he should have been taking
Alliance member and friend Hugh Thompson said: “Patrick had a
keen sense of humour. He could make us all laugh and indeed many times
we laughed with him at his own non-conforming ways. He was his own man.
“Patrick will be very greatly missed far beyond the Alliance
Party to which he gave so much of his life and time. An honourable man,
a man of integrity and decency, he will be remembered by those of us
who knew him with great affection and always with a smile.”
Cllr Sara Duncan said he was a man who “always stood up for what was right’:
“He did such a lot of work on my behalf and taught me so much that I will always be grateful for. He’ll be very sadly missed.”