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HEAVENS OPEN FOR LONG GOODBYE TO ALBERT

Albert Reynolds' children launched a stirring defence of their father against the criticism the former Taoiseach endured during his career.

The former Fianna Fail leader was honoured by dignitories from around the world who paid their respects at his State funeral yesterday.

And Mr Reynolds contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process was recognised by the Pope. A telegram of condolence from Pope Francis to the Reynolds family was sent to Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

"The Holy Father learned with sadness of the death of the former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, and he asks you to kindly convey his condolences to Mrs Reynolds and their children and family.

Recalling with gratitude the late Taoiseach's efforts in promoting peace and reconciliation in Ireland, his holiness prays for the eternal repose of his soul," the message sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State at the Vatican said.

The attendance at the funeral reflected Mr Reynolds contribution to business, showbusiness, politics and the peace process.

Credit

Throughout the funeral mass, there were references to attacks on Mr Reynolds.

The comments reflected the perception Mr Reynolds didn't receive the credit for his work during his lifetime.

His daughter, Miriam, referred to the way he was treated in her prayer of the faithful.

"In his relentless pursuit of his political objective, dad was frequently isolated, shunned and vilified - the lonesome boatman," she said.

"Fortunately, for all of us, he was blessed with noble qualities, which sustained him during those gruesome, gruelling years. He never gave up and he never looked back."

In her reflection, Andrea Reynolds said her father had taught her to "never fear failure".

She told a story about failing an exam and how her father encouraged her to carry on.

"You will learn more about life from this experience than if you had passed with flying colours," he had told her.

But Ms Reynolds also read a famous passage from a speech made by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910 entitled The Citizen in the Republic, which begins with the lines: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."

After completing the passage, she added: "That man in the arena was our dad and we will be forever proud."

In his eulogy, Philip Reynolds referred to the numerous tributes to his father since his death.

"It is some quare and peculiar trait in the Irish that seems to suggest we can all afford a generosity in death that we find so hard to give in life," he said.

Mr Reynolds also defended his father's often derided demand for all issues to be summarised on one page.

"His often scoffed at one-page philosophy says more about us than it does about him. While the rest of us would be flapping around looking for the reassurance of what we were about to do, dad would be gone.

"That amazing ability to keep things simple is what made decision-making in his life so easy. It wasn't just a hunch, you know. He knew what he wanted and, in addition, any more than one page only served to confuse the issue," he said.

Philip Reynolds also recalled the sadness of his father's passing after years of suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

"Dad left us on Thursday morning. In reality, because of the cruelness of his illness, he left us years earlier, years before his many, many grandkids, as you've seen, had an opportunity to see the real dad, the family man," he said.

Fr Brian Darcy said Mr Reynolds was a man of peace.

"Wherever Albert was, there was joy," he said.

Fr Darcy recalled how Mr Reynolds had told him on becoming Taoiseach: "I'll bring peace, but there's no votes in the North."

He added: "For him peace was the only battle worth waging. He knew that peace was not achieved only by talking to your friends, you must talk to your enemies and make peace with them."

Applause

Former British prime minister John Major received a round of applause from mourners.

Funeral mass celebrant 
Fr Brian Darcy said the Reynolds family were "particularly pleased" by the attendance of the politician who negotiated the Downing Street Declaration with the former Taoiseach.

"Where else would I be on this day?" Mr Major said when he was thanked for attending the funeral.

President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny led the mourners at the State funeral in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

The political figures present also included former Taoisigh Liam Cosgrave, John Bruton, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.

From the current Cabinet, Tanaiste Joan Burton, Michael Noonan, Brendan Howlin, Frances Fitzgerald, Charlie Flanagan, Paschal Donohoe and Attorney General Maire Whelan were all present.

Mr Reynolds' role in the peace process saw a strong presence of people involved in Northern Ireland and cross-border politics.

Former President Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin, Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers, former SDLP leader John Hume and his wife, Pat, along with current party leader Alastair McDonnell were in the church. So too were Northern Ireland deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and party MP Pat Doherty.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke represented the people of the capital, where Mr Reynolds lived in his later years.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin was joined by a host of party TDs and Senators. European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, and former Commissioners Dick Burke, Padraig Flynn and Charlie McCreevy were in attendance.

There were also plenty of former ministers present, including Des O'Malley, David Andrews, Dick Spring, Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey, John Gormley, Mary O'Rourke, Mary Coughlan and Mary Hanafin.

Business and sport were also represented through the presence of billionaire racehorse owner JP McManus, businessmen Larry Goodman and Tom Ryan, and fashion designer Louise Kennedy.

Showbusiness

Jockey Charlie Swan, former GAA director general Liam Mulvihill, former IFA President John Bryan, PR consultant Caroline Kennedy, entertainer Twink and showbusiness reporter Lorraine Keane were also in attendance.

Also present from the media were RTE director-general Noel Curran and deputy director-general Kevin Bakhurst, former Government Press Secretaries Sean Duignan and Mandy Johnston, broadcaster John Bowman, former newscaster Anne Doyle and former Longford Leader journalist John Donlon.

Mr Reynolds was laid to rest in Shanganagh Cemetery.

hnews@herald.ie


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