Tributes for Northern Ireland gay rights campaigner

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Tributes are being paid to Northern Ireland LGBT rights campaigner PA Maglochlainn, who has died from a long illness.

Mr Maglochlainn was the president of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA) and helped organise Belfast’s first gay pride event in 1991.

As a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), he became the first openly gay representative to sit on a NI political party’s executive.

In 2011, he was presented with an award from Belfast Pride for his years of dedication to the city’s movement.

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell expressed “deep sadness” at the news.

Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, also paid tribute to Mr MagLochlainn and said:

“He championed the rights of gay people before there was legislation in place to protect those rights and made an important contribution to the improvement of the lives of many people in Northern Ireland.”

John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, said: “PA was a leader in the LGBT community for decades. His contribution, while sorely missed, will never be forgotten. He did so much.

“He was a founding member of Belfast Pride and was actively involved in working with the police too.

“He was involved with every aspect of LGBT life at some point in his life.”