'He showed us what seemed impossible was not' – Bono
Published 06/12/2013 | 02:30
NELSON Mandela's profound impact was remembered fondly as tributes poured in from all walks of Irish life.
Politicians, musicians, aid agencies and activists all sought to find the words to express their admiration for a man who was a global statesman while simultaneously touching many individual lives.
U2 singer Bono said he had followed him since he was a teenager, and that Mr Mandela "defined something much bigger for the rest of us – a way of seeing and believing in a future not yet arrived".
He added: "He had a kind of moral clarity devoid of piety. A lot of humour, a lot of humility. A conversation was always about everybody else.
"Mandela was a man who showed us, above all, that what seemed impossible was not. Rather than be a prisoner of his age he chose to set it free."
Others in the music world who paid tribute included Bob Geldof and Boyzone singer Ronan Keating, who said he had been privileged to meet Mr Mandela. "A true inspiration to us all. Let us never forget. RIP," he said.
Special Olympics Ireland, which welcomed Mr Mandela in 2003, said in a statement: "Mr Mandela recognised sport as a way to connect people.
"He touched many hearts during his speech at the opening ceremony when he said, 'The Special Olympics is telling is testimony to the indestructibility of the human spirit and our capacity to overcome hardship and obstacles. You, the athletes, are ambassadors of the greatness of human kind'."
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Mr Mandela's "belief in humanity and commitment to true reconciliation is an example to us all".
Colm O'Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said his death is not just a loss for South Africa, but a loss for people all over the world who are fighting for freedom. "As a world leader who refused to accept injustice, his courage helped change our entire world."
The Immigrant Council of Ireland said: "Whether it was our supermarket workers refusing to handle South African produce, our artists boycotting Sun City, or our political leaders taking a stand against apartheid, his influence was felt in every part of Irish society."
Meanwhile, Eamonn Meehan, Trocaire's executive director, said Mr Mandela's legacy should be celebrated and his vision followed.
"He was an icon for humanity, who personified the notion that good can triumph even against the greatest odds," he said, adding that the world has lost one of its "true giants".