Northern Ireland

Funeral of former SDLP MP Eddie McGrady takes place

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Media captionEddie McGrady's funeral was held in Downpatrick, County Down

Former SDLP leader John Hume, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, were among mourners at Eddie McGrady's funeral in Downpatrick.

Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to the former South Down MP at St Patrick's Church.

The Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, described him as a popular politician.

Mr McGrady, 78, died on Monday after a long illness.

Other mourners included the SDLP's Seamus Mallon, Fearghal McKinney, Joe Hendron, Brid Rodgers and Margaret Ritchie, who did a reading during the service.

Mr McGrady will be buried at St Patrick's Cemetery, Saul.

A founding member of the SDLP, he was South Down MP from 1987 until his retirement three years ago.

Tributes to Mr McGrady were led by SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell, who said his politics "were the politics of fair play, of social justice, reconciliation and general decency".

Image caption Eddie McGrady was a founding member of the SDLP

One of 11 children, Mr McGrady was born in Market Street in Downpatrick, County Down, where his father ran a clothing shop.

A former chartered accountant, he sat on Downpatrick Urban Council in the 1960s and early 1970s, and then on Down District Council until 1989.

He was also a member of the Northern Ireland assemblies in existence in the 1970s and 1980s, and a member of the current assembly between 1998 and 2003.

Mr McGrady gained national prominence on election night in 1987, when - at his fourth attempt - he defeated Enoch Powell, who had been Ulster Unionist MP for South Down since 1974.

As an SDLP MP he was known as an opponent of the Sellafield nuclear plant and a defender of the Downe Hospital.

Mr McGrady's wife of more than 20 years, Patricia, passed away in 2003. They are survived by their three children - Paula, Jerry and Conaill.

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