Europe

Albert Reynolds: Former Irish prime minister to have state funeral

  • 22 August 2014
  • From the section Europe
Media captionBBC Northern Ireland political reporter Gareth Gordon looks back on the life of Albert Reynolds

Ireland's former prime minister Albert Reynolds is to have a state funeral.

Mr Reynolds, who played a key role in advancing the Northern Ireland peace process, including the 1994 IRA ceasefire, died on Thursday, aged 81.

He served as taoiseach (prime minister) for just under three years from February 1992 to December 1994.

The public will be able to file past his coffin in Dublin's Mansion House on Saturday. The funeral will take place on Monday.

The funeral will be at the Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook, Dublin, at 12:00 BST, followed by the burial in Shanganagh Cemetery in Shankill, Co Dublin.

The Fianna Fáil politician, who was born in Rooskey in County Roscommon, led the party in two coalition governments.

On a biography on its website, Fianna Fáil said of Mr Reynolds: "Without a doubt his greatest 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.

Media captionSir John Major: ''I don't think, without Albert, there would have been a peace process''

Former prime minister Sir John Major said Mr Reynolds' willingness to bring different sides together allowed them to "put aside disagreements" and retain a good relationship "to work for a common goal".

"I have to tell you, in my experience in politics that this isn't a virtue that every politician has, but Albert Reynolds did," he said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams paid tribute to Mr Reynolds on his Twitter account, saying he acted on Northern Ireland "when it mattered".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Reynolds with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume in 1994

Mr Reynolds became a member of Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) at the 1977 general election, when he was elected for the constituency of Longford/Westmeath.

He was minister for industry and commerce in 1987-88 and minister for finance, 1988-91.

Mr Reynolds was removed from the cabinet for challenging the leadership of his predecessor Charles Haughey in 1991.

However, he assumed the mantle of leadership shortly afterwards in a continuation of the coalition government with the Progressive Democrats.

At the beginning of 1993, Mr Reynolds was returned to office in coalition with the Labour Party.

Mr Reynolds resigned as leader of Fianna Fáil and taoiseach later in 1994, after his coalition partners in the Labour Party pulled out of government because of a controversy that involved the extradition of paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth.

Mr Reynolds had appointed Attorney General Harry Whelehan to the post of president of the High Court. Mr Whelehan had been heavily criticised over his handling of the extradition of Fr Smyth to Northern Ireland.

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