Albert Reynolds: Funeral of former Irish PM takes place in Dublin

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption"Albert Reynolds realised peace cannot take root until the violence stops"

A state funeral for the Irish Republic's former Prime Minister Albert Reynolds has taken place in Dublin.

Mr Reynolds, who played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process, died on Thursday at the age of 81.

"For him, peace was the only battle worth waging," Fr Brian D'Arcy told mourners.

"He knew that peace was not achieved only by talking to your friends, you must talk to your enemies and make peace with them."

Fr D'Arcy added: "He took personal and political risks, but all he was doing was giving peace a chance."

Mr Reynolds had worked with the then British Prime Minister Sir John Major to create 1993's Downing Street Declaration, which effectively set in train the Northern Ireland peace process, including the 1994 IRA ceasefire.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir John Major's attendance at the funeral was greeted with a round of applause in church
Image copyright PA
Image caption Taoiseach Enda Kenny was in attendance
Image copyright PA
Image caption Former SDLP leader John Hume, pictured arriving at Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook

Sir John's attendance at the funeral was greeted with a round of applause in the church.

Fr D'Arcy told mourners it had been particularly important for the family that he was able to attend.

He said: "His (Sir John's) words were typical: 'Where else would I be on this day?"'

The Fianna Fáil politician, who was born in Rooskey, County Roscommon, served as taoiseach (prime minister) from February 1992 to December 1994.

His funeral was held at Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook, Dublin.

Among the mourners were Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Irish President Michael D Higgins, as well as former Irish prime ministers Brian Cowen, Bertie Ahern, John Bruton and Liam Cosgrave, and former president Mary McAleese.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Hundreds of mourners packed the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Reynolds' wife Kathleen, with their sons Albert and Philip
Image copyright AP
Image caption Martin McGuinness and Sir John Major shook hands
Image copyright PA

Former SDLP leader and Nobel peace prize winner John Hume, current SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers were also in attendance.

Mr Reynolds' grandchildren carried symbolic artefacts of his life to the altar, including his personal copy of the Downing Street Declaration and a can of puppy chow from the pet food company that he founded.

Pope Francis sent a message paying tribute to Mr Reynolds' role as a peacemaker, in a telegram from the Vatican's secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

"The Holy Father learned with sadness of the death of the former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, and he asks you kindly to convey his condolences to Mrs Reynolds and their children and family," he said.

"Recalling with gratitude the late Taoiseach's efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Ireland, His Holiness prays for the eternal repose of his soul."

Last week, prominent political figures from across the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain paid tribute to Mr Reynolds.

More on this story