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Editor's Viewpoint

Seamus Mallon was renowned for his integrity in helping shape a better Northern Ireland

Editor's Viewpoint

Seamus Mallon

The immense contribution of Seamus Mallon to politics and the peace process has been underlined by the large number of deserved tributes from across the political spectrum.

He rose to prominence in the civil rights movement and later became a major politician as deputy leader of the SDLP, and as Deputy First Minister in the Stormont power-sharing administration with David Trimble

Seamus Mallon was also a highly-regarded and consummate politician at Westminster.

He was a most fair, principled, courageous and wise man. The former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair described him as "one of the most important architects of peace in Northern Ireland. Brave, blunt, often prepared to swim against the tide if he felt it right, he was someone deeply respected and admired across the troubled landscape of Irish politics."

The DUP leader Arlene Foster in paying tribute reminded us of the two stark and clear choices he set forth: "We can live together in generosity and compassion or we can continue to die in bitter disharmony."

He was an avowed nationalist brought up in a largely Protestant village in South Armagh where he formed an understanding of and kinship with his neighbours, and he was an unrelenting opponent of the IRA.

Mr Mallon made an immense contribution, with others, to the Good Friday Agreement - which established the transforming peace process - and also to the reform of policing here.

He had many fine qualities including honesty, integrity and a deep humanity, but he was his own man.

A review of his biography, A Shared Home Place, with Andy Pollak carried the headline "Sombre, compassionate, prickly".

One of the most fitting tributes to him came from Pat Hume whose husband John worked so long and creatively with Mr Mallon. "Men like Seamus Mallon don't come along too often, and we should be grateful for his work in our time and preserve his values."

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