Albert Reynolds, former Taoiseach, dies aged 81
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Albert Reynolds, former Taoiseach, dies aged 81

ALBERT Reynolds, the former Taoiseach who played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process, has died after a long illness.

He was 81 years old.

Mr Reynolds was born in Rooskey, Co Roscommon in 1932, and went on to become a successful businessman and politician.

He served as a minister in several government departments and was twice elected Taoiseach.

This morning his eldest son Philip confirmed that his father had passed away overnight.

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Tributes have now begun to pour in for the former Fianna Fáil leader.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Reynolds brought an energy and drive to the development of business and economic growth during his time as Minister for Finance and Minister for Industry.

British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted Mr Reynolds' "partnership with Sir John Major led to the crucial Downing St Declaration in 1993".

Mr Reynolds is survived by his wife Kathleen, two sons and five daughters.

Albert Reynolds was first elected to the Dáil for the constituency of Longford/Westmeath in 1977.

He went on to serve as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and Minister for Transport from 1979-81.

As Minister for Industry and Energy in 1982 he developed the National Grid, establishing the gas pipeline from Cork to Dublin. He was Minister for Industry and Commerce in 1987-88 and Minister for Finance, 1988-91.

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He was removed from Cabinet for challenging the leadership of Charles Haughey in 1991, but assumed the mantle of leadership shortly afterwards in a continuation of the coalition government with the Progressive Democrats.

At the beginning of 1993 he was returned to office in coalition with the Labour Party.

His biggest achievement was in Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations, signing the Downing Street Declaration in 1993.

It was Reynolds’ determination that gave impetus to the peace process and the establishment of an IRA ceasefire in 1994, followed shortly afterwards by a loyalist ceasefire.

In a dispute with coalition partners the Labour Party, the government fell and Albert Reynolds resigned as leader of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach in late 1994.