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Dr Tiede Herrema - kidnapped and held hostage by IRA in 1975 - dies a week after his wife

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Dr Tiede Herrema on a visit to the University of Limerick in 2005

Dr Tiede Herrema on a visit to the University of Limerick in 2005

Sean Curtin Press

Dr Tiede Herrema on a visit to the University of Limerick in 2005

Dutch industrialist Tiede Herrema - who was kidnapped and held hostage by the IRA for 36 days in the 1970s - has passed away, exactly a week after his wife.

He passed away on April 24, a week after his wife Elisabeth who died on Friday April 17.

On October 3, 1975, Dr Herrema was kidnapped by IRA members Eddie Gallagher and Marian Coyle and held for ransom for 36 days.

The crime came to international attention.

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Honorary citizens: Tiede and Elisabeth Herrema visited Ireland regularly despite their ordeal

Honorary citizens: Tiede and Elisabeth Herrema visited Ireland regularly despite their ordeal

Honorary citizens: Tiede and Elisabeth Herrema visited Ireland regularly despite their ordeal

Gardaí learned of their location and for the final 18 days of the incident, there was a siege that also involved the Army at the house in Monasterevin, Co Kildare.

It came to an end when he was released unharmed on November 7, when the IRA members threw their guns out the window of the house.

Both Dr and Mrs Herrema were made honorary citizens after the kidnapping.

"I had a very long and happy friendship with them. I was very lucky to have known to them and admired them both," said Joe Brennan, who was deputy to the Irish ambassador at the Hague at the time and was a good friend of the family.

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The house in which the gang was cornered

The house in which the gang was cornered

The house in which the gang was cornered

The couple had been married for 72 years.

"They both had the greatest dignity and courage," added Mr Brennan.

He died on Friday and the funeral is on Wednesday in Arnhem in The Netherlands.

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to the couple today, who had made several trips to Ireland and Áras an Uachtarain during their lives.

"It is with deep sadness that I have learned of the death earlier today of Dr Tiede Herrema, so soon after the death of his beloved wife Elisabeth,” he said.

"I had the privilege of meeting Tiede and Elisabeth on many occasions, including at Áras an Uachtaráin during their regular trips to Ireland."

He said that Dr Herrema had endured a "traumatic" kidnapping but held no grudges towards his kidnappers.

"Dr Herrema, who had endured such a traumatic kidnapping, harboured no bitterness towards his abductors and had maintained a very strong bond with Ireland. Both he and Elisabeth accepted honorary Irish citizenship.

"They will be missed, and fondly remembered by their many friends in Ireland. Sabina and I send our deepest condolences to their four sons, wider family and friends," the president added.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan also extended his sympathies to Dr Herrema's family as he recalled his own memories of the kidnapping.

"The memory of the ordeal that Tiede Herrema endured at the hands of a breakaway IRA faction in 1975 is indelibly imprinted on the memories of many people in this country. The terrifying spectacle of a businessman being kidnapped by terrorists was a truly shocking event at the time.

"I have vivid personal memories as my father was then a TD and parliamentary secretary and Dr Herrema was held near my hometown of Mountmellick for a time by his captors.

“The 1975 kidnapping of Dr Herrema represented not just a personal tragedy for the Herrema’s, but a direct attack on the State by terrorists. The then Taoiseach, the late Liam Cosgrave, bravely faced down that threat with the full support of the late Elisabeth Herrema," Mr Flanagan said.

"I believe we all have much to learn from the ordeal that Tiede Herrema endured and the great magnanimity and courage he and Elisabeth always embodied. Their passing, just a short time apart, is a loss to both The Netherlands, and Ireland."

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney also paid tribute to the Herremas as he spoke about their legacy today.

He said: "Tiede and Elisabeth were determined that their ordeal would not undermine their love of Ireland and its people. They maintained these close connections to the end.

"The dignity, bravery and courage shown by Tiede and Elisabeth continue to inspire. Their actions over the years epitomise the true spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation which are needed to move beyond conflict and adversity.

"We are honoured that that the Herremas chose not to let such a terrible life-changing experience colour or define their relationship with Ireland. Both Tiede and Elisabeth will always have a special place in the hearts of the Irish people. Ireland and the Netherlands are the poorer for their passing."

Online Editors