Thursday 18 December 2014

Letters: From dance halls to peace talks, Albert was a true genius

Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30

A full state funeral will be held for former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds
A full state funeral will be held for former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds

My earliest recollection of Albert Reynolds goes back to the 'ballroom of romance' days, when the young entrepreneur with the scattered oily hair and twinkle in the eye, ran a chain of dance halls.

As his career progressed in the entertainment business, manufacturing and, finally, politics, I was in discussion one day with a friend and unthinkingly referred to him as having all the attributes of a "wizard".

How true it proved to be. He was a person of extraordinary powers - a genius, a magician and a conjurer. Mr Reynolds was a new breed of politician, having initially made a fortune in business.

Even then, at age 45, he had fitted in three seedling years with Longford Co Council, familiarising himself with the tricks of the trade before finally entering Leinster House as a TD.

He was like a shining star, a figure of honesty and integrity, unpolluted by the ways of 
politics.

Thankfully, he remained so until he died, having held ministerial posts, served as Taoiseach and made a noble bid for the Presidency. Mr Reynolds was a man of tenacity with a gambling spirit that was instrumental in bringing about peace between North and South, which we all enjoy today.

James Gleeson, Thurles, Co Tipperary


Farewell to a man of peace

I have a vivid recollection of a meeting of the Fianna Fail National Executive on December 2, 1993, when I was a young member of the executive.

Albert Reynolds was Taoiseach and President of Fianna Fail at the time. He was chairing the monthly National Executive meeting in his usual business-like and brisk manner, when a senior civil servant sent word that he was needed on the telephone. It was unusual that the leader of the party would be called out of the meeting to take a call. But I didn't take much notice of it, and the meeting progressed under the chairmanship of the late Brian Lenihan.

Then, about 15 minutes later, Mr Reynolds re-appeared and was back chairing the meeting. He seemed in great form after his telephone call, and - almost as if talking to himself, or talking to nobody in particular - he said to all at the meeting: "That was Major on the line." (I thought to myself: "Is he talking about Prime Minister John Major?")

Next, he said: "He is coming over tomorrow for Anglo Irish Talks." (I said to myself: "Yes, he is talking about John Major," as the British delegation were due in Dublin Castle the following day to discuss Anglo Irish issues).

After those few words, the meeting resumed to its normal business and Mr Reynolds kept any further thoughts on the Anglo Irish meeting to himself. Of course, it was some time before we got a flavour of the interaction that took place between the Irish and British delegations at the meeting the following day, Friday, December 3, 1993. But we do know now that the meeting was an important step to securing the Downing Street Declaration and the subsequent ceasefires in August 1994.

I have often reflected on Mr Reynolds's demeanour and mood that night. His body language reflected a man full of confidence, his voice was determined, he was focused and there was a glow of giddiness and excitement about him. He meant business. Mr Reynolds was a man with a mission that night.

Gearoid Lohan, Clane, Co Kildare

Was it my imagination or did I blink during the RTE live coverage of Albert Reynolds's funeral and realise that no prominent member of the unionist/loyalist community came to Dublin to pay their respects?

What's more, nobody in the print or broadcast media seems to have picked up on this or understood its relevance. One would have thought that unionists, who were key players at the time, might have at least made an appearance just to acknowledge that Mr Reynolds got the IRA to call a halt in August 1994, something no other political leader had achieved since 1969.

You might have thought that somebody would have acknowledged that there is relative "normality" in Northern Ireland these days, thanks, in the main, to one man? But no. The old saying is true that eaten bread is soon forgotten. What was once thought to be unimaginable is now, it appears, being taken for granted.

What's more, there was practically no mention in the media of the fact that the National Treasury Management Agency was the brainchild of Mr Reynolds, itself something that was met with initial resistance in the Department of Finance. Things may be bad now, but only for the NTMA, they could be 50 times worse.

Ken Murray, Duleek, Co Meath

 

Albert Reynolds received a state funeral because he deserved it. Because it can truly be said that this man, 'unlike the other one', had done the State some service.

Paddy O'Brien, Balbriggan, Co Dublin

If the life, times and the death of Albert Reynolds shows one Irish trait at its best, it is that one never speaks well of the living - wait until they are dead. He was indeed a great man.

Aidan Hampson, Artane, Co Dublin

Blame Mayo/Kerry for replay

James Woods and Gerald Morgan (Irish Independent, Letters, August 26) take issue with the fact that the All-Ireland semi-final replay will be played in Limerick and not in Croke Park.

There are a few points to bear in mind. First, Kerry and Mayo each have themselves to blame for failing to win the All-Ireland semi-final when they each had the chance to do so. The point of a semi-final in football is to win the game, not to whinge about where any possible "replay" might be held.

Secondly, there were 30,000 empty seats on Sunday; for an All-Ireland semi-final, this would probably have been unheard of only a few years ago. Until the county teams can get their act together and get their supporters to travel to Croke Park to fill it (if such supporters even exist), the GAA cannot be blamed for trying to make up for the lack of regular ticket sales with other initiatives, such as an American football game.

Thirdly, it is worth noting that holding an American football match in Croke Park every year or so means a great deal to many members of the Irish-American diaspora, who relish the opportunity to travel to Ireland for it. We should welcome them, not insult them.

John B Reid, Monkstown, Co Dublin

Wake up to suffering

It is 100 years since World War I, but still the world is full of suffering. Why? Dysfunctional thinking? Living in our heads? Being controlled by our thinking? Can we change? Wake up? Become the present and come back to the here and now? Imagine if every human being could be still for a minute and become truly present and aware, we would stop creating suffering for that minute, irrespective of our views on religion, politics, land, human rights, etc. Before we change the world, we must change ourselves first. By waking up.

Ted Cronin, Tralee, Co Kerry

 

Anomaly in law not our making

In her article on the Rose of Tralee Festival (Irish Independent, August 25), Martina Devlin is a little harsh on Irish legislators. The bizarre fact that homosexuality was a crime while the law was silent on lesbianism was not the result of Irish legislation. The anomaly was contained in British laws, which still applied here after independence.

John F Jordan, Brussels, Belgium

Irish Independent

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