Clinton leads tributes to 'courageous' former leader
Published 22/08/2014 | 02:30
ALBERT Reynolds has been hailed for the risks he took to kickstart the peace process after he died following a long battle with illness.
Mr Reynolds (81) passed away early yesterday morning after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for almost six years.
Members of his family were with him as the former Taoiseach died at his home in Dublin. Mr Reynolds will be honoured with a State funeral.
Tributes flowed in from across the world for the former Taoiseach, who was one of the architects of the peace process.
Former US President Bill Clinton pointed to the risks Mr Reynolds took in the Northern Ireland peace process.
"I am saddened by the passing of former prime minister of Ireland Albert Reynolds, who worked hard and risked much as Taoiseach to advance the Northern Ireland peace process," he said.
Mr Reynolds served as Taoiseach from February 1992 to December 1994 with the Downing Street Declaration in November and the IRA ceasefire of August 1994 regarded as his most significant achievements.
President Michael D Higgins recalled his "great courtesy and relaxed manner".
"Albert Reynolds will be remembered as a most dynamic Cabinet Minister and a Taoiseach with courage, who made a very important contribution to the dialogue which led to the Northern Ireland peace process," he said.
The US Vice President Joe Biden said he was "deeply saddened" by Mr Reynolds' death.
"His instrumental role in the 1993 Downing Street Declaration in London with former British Prime Minister John Major and his efforts to enact subsequent ceasefires paved the way for every major peace agreement for the last twenty years, and his deep conviction that there was nothing to fear from peace still resounds across Ireland and Northern Ireland today," he said.
"Taoiseach Reynolds knew that keeping of peace requires continuing commitment and constant attention. I urge today’s leaders to continue advancing the peace process in Northern Ireland, so that all of its citizens can live in the peaceful, prosperous, and shared community that Reynolds envisioned."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Reynolds played an important part in bringing together differing strands of political opinion in Northern Ireland.
"And as a consequence (he) made an important contribution to the development of the peace process which eventually le d to the Good Friday Agreement," he said.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said when Mr Reynolds left the office of Taoiseach, he left a country that was "embracing peace and a modernised economy on the verge of significant growth".
The Taoiseach extended the offer of a State funeral, as is the norm when former Taoisigh die.
Officials from the Taoiseach's office met with members of the Reynolds family yesterday.
Mr Reynolds will lie in repose in the Oak Room, Mansion House, Dublin, tomorrow afternoon. Members of the public will be invited to file past the coffin to pay their respects and sign a Book of Condolence between 1pm and 6pm. Mr Reynolds' remains will be formally received at the Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, at 7.30pm.
The funeral mass will take place at noon on Monday, followed by burial at Shanganagh Cemetery in Shankill, Co Dublin between 2pm and 2:30pm.
Mr Reynolds is understood to have wanted to be buried in Dublin, rather than Longford, his political and business base, as his family mostly lives in the capital.
The last time many of his old political associates saw him was at the funeral of his long-time political adviser, former Fianna Fail councillor Mickey Doherty, almost three years ago.
Mr Reynolds's lifelong friend and political strategist Benny Reid said he had been keeping in touch on a weekly basis with the Reynolds family.
However, he had not intruded on their personal care for the former Taoiseach at home.
"I personally chose to remember the man I knew and remembered and looked up to," he said.
Last December, his son, Philip, revealed Mr Reynolds was in the very late stages of Alzheimer's, required 24-hour care, and was unable to have conversations with people.
His condition had gradually deteriorated since he first began suffering from the disease six years ago.