Northern Ireland

Fr Alec Reid: Reaction to death of the Belfast priest

Image caption Fr Reid, 82, acted as a conduit between the republican movement and SDLP leader John Hume in Northern Ireland's peace process

Peter Robinson, NI first minister

"I was saddened to hear of the death of Fr Reid and I convey my sincere sympathies to his entire family and friends at this time.

"Alec opposed violence and understood that the key to making progress was through reaching out to others regardless of their background."

Martin McGuinness, NI deputy first minister

"He played a crucial role in helping to initiate and build the peace process and all that has flowed from it.

"He understood the need for democracy and dialogue and was prepared to make personal sacrifices in order to deliver for the good of everyone in society.

"Fr Reid was a man of great dignity and his service to society embodied decency and respect for everyone. He made an immeasurable contribution to the peace process and he has left a legacy of peace and hope for a better future for all."

Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin president

"I feel deeply saddened. I have not absorbed it yet. I knew him for the last 40 years.

"He was also a very good friend of mine, of my wife, of my family.

"What Alec Reid did was he lived the gospel message. He developed a view which was contrary to the official view, that there had to be dialogue, and he was tenacious - I remember quite a few times saying he was like a terrier."

John Hume, former SDLP leader

"Fr Reid was a pillar of the peace process. Without his courage, determination and utter selflessness, the road to peace in our region would have been much longer and much more difficult to traverse.

"A man of faith and deep conviction, his commitment to our people was a key part of the foundation on which our early, fragile peace was built."

Theresa Villiers, NI Secretary of State

"I heard with sadness of the death of Fr Reid.

"We all owe a debt of gratitude to him for the role he played in the peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland."

Dr Robin Eames, former Church of Ireland primate

"I think history will record him as someone who had the courage to reach out at a time when there weren't too many people willing to do that."

Harold Good, Methodist minister who verified IRA decommissioning with Fr Reid

"I remember a profile of him on radio and it ended with this tribute to him, which I thought was wonderful. It is said in every war or conflict there is a no-man's land into which very few people are prepared to go. Alec Reid was one such person."

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh

"He was a priest of great compassion who reached out to all those who were hurting and suffering.

"Always out of the limelight, he continued his patient and delicate peace work without seeking any personal credit or reward.

"The people of this island will forever owe Fr Reid an immeasurable debt of gratitude for his tireless work towards building a civilisation of love and peace."

Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP leader

"I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Fr Reid who dedicated his life to ensuring peace was realised on this island.

"His death reminds us that we haven't quite reached completion in terms of the peace process and we must redouble our efforts to achieve a lasting settlement.

"The courage and bravery displayed by Fr Reid during the Troubles has been a shining example to people right across the world.

"I want to offer my sincere condolences to the Redemptorist order at Clonard and in particular Fr Gerry Reynolds at this difficult time."

Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist Party leader

"Of course, the image of Fr Reid at the murders of corporals Howes and Wood in 1988 is one of the iconic pictures of the entire Troubles. But it is what he did privately that history will record as his contribution to peace.

"He sometimes said things that upset unionists, occasionally had to apologise for his comments, but I do not doubt that he was sincere in working to end the violence on our streets and managed to command the attention of key politicians and civic leaders at a time when Northern Ireland was rocking from a series of brutal atrocities."

Ivan Lewis MP, shadow NI secretary of state

"Deeply saddened to hear that Fr Alec Reid has passed away. He was a key pillar in bringing peace to Northern Ireland."

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin

"Fr Reid played a pivotal role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland. I was always struck by his humility and compassion for people on all sides of the Troubles.

"He had a remarkable capacity to put everyone he met at ease and his diplomacy, patience and influence led to the initiation of peace talks in the eighties which eventually lead to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

"Fr Reid was a visionary and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for the lasting peace that he helped bring about."

Eamon Gilmore, Irish deputy prime minister

"Fr Reid made an essential contribution to the peace process during its most challenging and crucial periods. He played a critical but also an unseen role at its very origins.

"He had a key role in facilitating talks between Gerry Adams and John Hume and, along with Reverend Harold Good, he played a vital part in the decommissioning process.

"We are the poorer for his passing today but Ireland is very much the richer for his labours."

Michael D Higgins, Irish president

"His ministering of the last rites to the two British corporals brutally killed in 1988 offered us an image of decency struggling to assert itself amidst brutality.

"While he spent the last few years of his life in Dublin, Fr Reid would have been gratified by the positive transformation that is under way throughout Northern Ireland, and especially in the Belfast that he loved so well."

David Ford, Alliance Party leader

"Fr Reid played a very significant part in the peace process. His compassion and deep humanity will always be remembered.

"He was a man who put his faith into action. He was an inspiration to all those involved in the peace process.

"We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for the work he carried out to bring an end to the Troubles."

Dawn Purvis, former leader of Progressive Unionist Party

"Sad news about Fr Alec Reid. His contribution to finding peace here and in other conflicts around the world will be told in the history books."

Paul Murphy, former Northern Ireland secretary

"The important thing about Fr Reid was that he was trusted by both sides.

"He was a man of enormous integrity and honesty, and of course he would have been a nationalist in political terms.

"He believed the big picture was trying to stop the killings in Northern Ireland. He acted, as you say, as the go-between, Sinn Féin, the IRA and the republican movement on one side, and the British government on the other."