Belfast Telegraph

Mourners at Maurice Hayes funeral hear how he strode the stage of life in many and varied roles

The funeral of Dr Maurice Hayes has taken place in Downpatrick.

He passed away on Saturday morning after a short illness.

A long-time contributor to the Belfast Telegraph, Dr Hayes rose to the top ranks of the civil service, becoming permanent secretary of the Department of Health.

The Queen’s University graduate was also involved in the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement and was a major contributor to the Patten Report which transformed the RUC into the PSNI.

The homily at his funeral on Wednesday was given by Canon Sean Rogan, who recalled being a pupil of Dr Hayes at St Patrick's Grammar School in Downpatrick in the 1950s.

"I knew Maurice as a pupil of his, fellow citizen of Killough, and life-long friend," he said.

"Maurice grew up in Killough, the lovely little seaside village just 6 miles from here," said Canon Rogan.

"As you enter the village – and especially when the tide is in – you have before you this wide lagoon; open, embracing, welcoming. And this bay reflected and was indicative of the life-style of the populace which influenced Maurice in his formative years."

He also recalled the range of positions held by Dr Hayes throughout his distinguished career, noting the contributions he made to Irish language and culture, the Gaelic Athletic Association, as the Town Clerk of Downpatrick, as the chairman of the Community Relations Commission, in his role as Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, as assistant secretary for the Power Sharing Executive, as permanent secretary in the Department of Health and Social Services, as a Senator in Seanad Eireann, and as Ireland Fund Executive.

"Maurice Hayes was a giant who strode the stage of life in so many and varied roles – but always the same Maurice of integrity, honesty and humility," Canon Rogan said.

"Blessed with a retentive, photographic memory. Throw out a line to Maurice from a Shakespearean sonnet or a poem from his friends Seamus Heaney or Michael Longley, or a soliloquy from Hamlet or Macbeth and you were treated with multiple verses or the full text. And, of course, that memory was an invaluable asset in those delicate discussions and negotiations in pursuit of peaceful resolutions, as to who said what, where and when."

Bishop Noel Treanor, who serves the Diocese of Down and Connor, said it was "with sadness" he learned of Dr Hayes death, and that he offered his condolences to his wife Joan, and his five children Clodagh, Margaret, Dara, Garrett and Ronan.

"I take the opportunity to pay tribute to the immense contribution of Maurice Hayes to the societal, cultural and political arenas across Ireland," he said.

"As we collectively, with his family, mourn the loss of a great citizen of Ireland and servant of its people, we entrust him to the loving presence of God. May the Lord have mercy on his soul and grant him eternal rest."

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