Reynolds was 'at the heart of the peace process' - tributes
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Reynolds was 'at the heart of the peace process' - tributes

ENDA Kenny and John Major are among the politicians who have paid tribute to former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who died in the early hours of this morning.

Former British prime minister Major said that Mr Reynolds was "at the heart of the success of the Irish peace process."

He explained that without Mr Reynolds the peace process "may never have started - or might have stalled at an early stage - and Ireland, north and south, might still be enduring the violence that scarred daily lives for so long."

He added: "Albert cared about achieving peace and took risks to deliver a future for Ireland that many thought was impossible. He deserves an honoured place in the history of his country. To me, he became a friend I cherish and will miss.

"The joy of the relationship with Albert from the start was that, in a fashion I can't quite explain, we were able to have the fiercest of rows without leaving scars and without leaving either of us less inclined to pursue the peace process than we were before, it was a clearing of the air."

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that Reynolds "brought an energy and drive to the development of business and economic growth during his tenure in office as minister for industry and as minister for finance."

Offering his sympathies and condolences to his family and Fianna Fáil, Kenny also added: “As Taoiseach, he played an important part in bringing together differing strands of political opinion in Northern Ireland and as a consequence made an important contribution to the development of the peace process which eventually led to the Good Friday Agreement.”

Former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen also paid tribute to the 81-year-old, who played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process.  

“I am deeply saddened to learn today of the death of Albert Reynolds," said Ahern.

"He was not afraid to take political risks to further the path of reconciliation. The Downing Street Declaration paved the way for the IRA ceasefire and all the positives which have flowed from the peace process for people North and South.

"So much of this achievement has its roots in Albert's courage, perseverance and his commitment to democratic politics. When the definitive history of this period is written, his name deserves to stand tall."

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Cowen added: “I will always be grateful for his trust and faith in me, particularly in appointing me to the cabinet for the first time in 1992."

 

Former President Mary McAleese said during an interview on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, that Mr Reynolds "managed to garner all the peacemakers, including the Americans, to hold all the pieces in tension until the politics stabilised again.

"I think that was his great capacity to see a deal through to conclusion and essentially to be the main navigator."

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Fellow ex-President Mary Robinson praised Mr Reynolds' attempts to achieve peace in Northern Ireland, and recalled how they shared a joint vision to end the violence in their respective roles as President and Taoiseach.

"I have every admiration for a kind of dogged determination, a sort of businessman's we have got to get this done," she said.

"It was much less a political a kind of, almost operational commitment by Albert Reynolds. We have got to get peace. People cannot go on getting killed. We cannot go on with this kneecapping of youngsters. He spoke about it with passion."