Belfast Telegraph

Albert Reynolds funeral: Politicians pay final respects to Northern Ireland peace process broker

By Ed Carty

Former Irish prime minister Albert Reynolds has been remembered at his state funeral as a determined peacemaker who led the Republic of Ireland with honesty and deep rooted goodness.

Hundreds of mourners from the world of politics, business, horse racing and music gathered at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, Dublin to pay their last respects.

Pope Francis set the tone for the service with a telegram for the family honouring Mr Reynolds' work towards peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

“Recalling with gratitude the late taoiseach's efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Ireland, His Holiness prays for the eternal repose of his soul,” the pontiff said.

Mr Reynolds was a religious man who prayed up until his death, aged 81, last Thursday.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen, two sons and five daughters. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which the funeral heard in truth took them from him many years before now.

The family took centre stage at the state funeral where Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Irish President Michael D Higgins joined four former taoisigh to lead a long line of dignitaries paying respects.

They included Sir John Major, who signed the Downing Street Declaration with Mr Reynolds in 1993 paving the way for peace talks involving the British and Irish governments and Sinn Fein.

The mass began with a special mention for Sir John Major's attendance, which was greeted with a round of applause throughout the packed church.

Chief celebrant Fr Brian D'Arcy said it was particularly important for the family that the former PM was able to attend. He told mourners: “His (Sir John's ) words were typical: ‘where else would I be on this day?”'

In a heartfelt eulogy Philip, Mr Reynolds’ elder son, described his businessman father as “an innately good man” who has “slipped away to do his next deal”.

Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, former SDLP leader and Nobel prize winner John Hume, SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers were present.

First Minister Peter Robinson did not attend. A spokesperson for OFMDFM did not respond to a request for a comment.

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