President leads tributes to cross-Border peace builder and former TD Crawford
The President and a former Taoiseach have led tributes to former Fine Gael TD Seymour Crawford and hailed his role in promoting cross-Border co-operation.
Mr Crawford, whose death at the age of 74 was announced yesterday, was a TD for the Cavan-Monaghan constituency and was first elected to the Dáil in 1992. He was re-elected at every election until he retired in 2011.
He previously sat on Monaghan County Council.
An Ulster Protestant, Mr Crawford has been remembered for bringing a unique perspective to the table during a crucial period in the peace process and for his work in building relations North and south.
A farmer who once served as vice-president of the Irish Farmers' Association, Mr Crawford held a number of positions in the Fine Gael party throughout his career.
Former Taoiseach John Bruton said Mr Crawford helped "in many practical and undemonstrative ways to bridge gaps in mutual understanding that grew up between the communities on this island".
During his political career Mr Crawford was also vice-chairman of the British-Irish parliamentary body.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his former colleague "played a crucial role in the work of the British-Irish inter-parliamentary body during one of the most important periods of the peace process, bringing his unique perspective to the table as the only Ulster Protestant member of the Oireachtas delegation".
"On a personal note, I had the privilege of working alongside Seymour during his final term in the Dáil, and I know that I wasn't the only member of the current Government to listen and learn from him prior to his retirement in 2011," he said.
President Michael D Higgins also paid tribute to Mr Crawford and extended his condolences to his family and friends. "Seymour was a staunch representative of Monaghan values, of its culture and traditions. He was an early voice for cross-Border co-operation. All the traditions he represented were an important contribution to Irish life and to those of us who served with him in the Oireachtas," he said.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also expressed his sadness at the death of the Fine Gael stalwart, recalling Mr Crawford's "wry sense of humour [and] a great sense of decency".
Heather Humphreys, who was co-opted to Mr Crawford's seat on Monaghan County Council, said he was not only a mentor but a close friend.