Paddy Harte

Paddy Harte sitting arms folded by a green area in a town

Paddy Harte was born in 1931 in the Corner House in Lifford where generations of the family ran a successful butchering and licensed trade.  He soon followed in the family tradition opening his own butchering businesses in Lifford and later Raphoe where he settled after getting married in 1953.  

Paddy Harte has been a politician for most of his life, elected to Donegal County Council in 1960 and a year later as Fine Gael TD for Donegal North East. He was one of the longest serving members of DailEireann serving the border Constituency for 36 years.    He was Minister of State as well as Spokesman on Northern Ireland.  When the Troubles erupted in Northern Ireland he was one of the few politicians from the Republic prepared to meet all sides to find a resolution to the conflict, his life threatened several times.

It was a visit to the cemeteries of the Somme and Flanders in 1996 that was to change his life and open a new chapter in Irish history.  Struck by the thousands of Irish names on headstones he was determined to create a lasting memorial to the forgotten soldiers and give voice to their families across Ireland. The result was the Island of Ireland Peace Park and Round Tower on Messines Ridge in Belgium and the historic inauguration in 1998 by the President Mary McAleese, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Albert of Belgium.

His researches lead to the Donegal Book of Honour listing the names of the fallen. This was replicated in Belfast, Dublin, Cork.  He was made a freeman of Messines.

Paddy Harte was awarded many honours for his reconciliation work among them an Hon OBE and an Hon Doctorate of Laws from UCD, European Joint European Person of the Year, Donegal Person of the Year.  He was a founder member of the Irish American Partnership and his political memoir “Young Tigers and Mongrel Foxes” was published in 2005.