'With his knowledge, insight and sharp wit, he was a precious asset for a better future' - Bill Clinton pays tribute to former diplomat Dermot Gallagher
Former US President Bill Clinton paid tribute to Dermot Gallagher - a key architect of the Northern Peace Process - as hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of the former diplomat this morning.
In a letter of condolence to his beloved wife Maeve, Mr Clinton described him as "a fine man, an extraordinary diplomat and a gifted civil servant who dedicated his life to advancing peace and prosperity for the Irish people."
Mr Clinton thanked him for his exemplary service as ambassador to the US between 1991 and 1997 and said: "I will be forever grateful for his important role in negotiating the Good Friday agreement."
"With his knowledge, insight and sharp wit, he was a precious asset for a better future."
Mr Gallagher, a native of Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim passed away on Sunday at the age of 72 following an illness.
Among the mourners who attended his funeral mass at the Holy Trinity Church near his home in Ratoath, Co Meath, this morning were former President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin, former minister Dermot Ahern, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, former Taoiseach John Bruton, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and other dignitaries, including Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Foreign Affairs minister Charlie Flanagan also attended the service.
Delivering the homily, parish priest Fr Gerry Stuart said: "Dermot had a warm and engaging personality and his natural affinity with people insulated him from any delusions of grandeur and people instinctively warmed to his company."
"His was a noble sense of service and duty, always committed to the ideals of public life, a conscientious consummate diplomat; intellectually gifted, who oozed tolerance, decency and gentleness, who could give wise and measured counsel," he said.
"He mixed his quiet leadership with wisdom and common sense."
Among his many accomplishments, Mr Gallagher served as General Secretary to the Department of Foreign Affairs and General Secretary to the Department of the Taoiseach.
Along with being one of the key architects of the Good Friday Agreement, he also served as an ambassador to Nigeria and chairman of The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission during his career as a diplomat that spanned 40 years.
He is survived by his wife Maeve, and children Fiona, Aoife and Ronan as well as brothers Niall, Lionel and Brian, sons-in law Kevin and Carey, grandchildren and other extended family.
He was buried at the cemetery adjoining the church following Requiem Mass.