'Pillar of the peace process' is mourned
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins led tributes to Fr Alec Reid, who died yesterday, describing the late priest as a "channel for peace" in Northern Ireland.
He said Fr Reid would best be remembered for the courageous part he played in "identifying and nurturing the early seeds of an inclusive peace process".
The President added: "Fr Reid's role as a channel for peace laid the ground for the achievement of the IRA ceasefire and created the political space for the multi-party talks that ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement."
Former SDLP leader John Hume said his friend, Fr Reid, was a "pillar of the peace process. Without his courage, determination and utter selflessness, the road to peace in our region would have been much longer and much more difficult to traverse".
Mr Hume added: "A man of faith and deep conviction, his commitment to our people was a key part of the foundation on which our early, fragile peace was built."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Fr Reid made major contributions "at so many critical times" during the peace process. He called him an "extraordinary man".
"His place in history is secure, and as Martin Manseragh referred to today, he was the real initiator of the peace process," added Mr Kenny.Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the priest's former base in Clonard was "the cradle of the peace process".
He added: "There would not be a peace process at this time without his diligent doggedness and his refusal to give up."
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said Fr Reid made an essential contribution to the peace process during its most challenging and crucial periods.
"He played a critical but also an unseen role at its very origins," he said.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin added: "Fr Reid was a visionary and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for the lasting peace that he helped bring about."