Belfast Telegraph

TD who co-founded Great War peace park in Belgium dies at 86

By Cormac McQuinn

An Irish politician who built bridges with Northern Ireland's unionist community has been remembered for his dedication to public life and his work as a peace-maker.

Former Fine Gael TD and minister Paddy Harte has passed away aged 86.

Serving as junior minister for posts and telegraphs in the 1980s, the father-of-nine gained prominence for his promotion of peace across Ireland and his work to mark the sacrifice made by Irish soldiers in World War One.

He was the co-founder - along with the late former loyalist leader Glenn Barr - of the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines, Belgium. The pair were jointly named European of the Year 1998 and the Queen and President Mary McAleese attended the opening of the park.

A TD between 1961 and 1997, Mr Harte is the father of Jimmy Harte, a former Labour Senator.

Irish president Michael D Higgins said: "He will be remembered not only as a popular and hard working member of Dail Eireann for nearly four decades, but also for his work in support of the peace process in Northern Ireland and promoting the recognition of those Irish who fought and died in World War One."

Tanaiste Simon Coveney offered his "deepest sympathies" to Mr Harte's wife Rosaleen and their family. He said Mr Harte was a "man of principle" who was "a consistent advocate" for reconciling the different traditions in Ireland.

Mr Coveney suggested that the Peace Park will be Mr Harte's "most enduring legacy".

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin said Mr Harte had left a lasting mark on Irish politics including as a "builder of bridges" who engaged with all sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

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