A quiet but critical leader in ending the troubles between Northern and Southern Ireland
After decades of working for peace between Protestants and Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland,Peacemaker in Action Alec Reid died on Friday, November 22, 2013 in a Dublin hospital.
Father Alec Reid was an influential mediator between Sinn Fein (the I.R.A.’s political arm) and leaders in the Irish and British governments during “The Troubles” – a period of violent struggle that lasted three decades in Northern Ireland. Though his work for peace was largely done behind the scenes, his role in the 1998 peace accords was well known by all. Signed on Good Friday in April 1998, the Belfast Agreement helped create a power sharing deal between the Democratic Unionist Party (mostly pro-British Protestants) and Sinn Fein (mostly pro-Irish Roman Catholics) and ended decades of violence.
In a statement last week, Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, said that “there would not be a peace process at this time without [Father Reid’s] diligent doggedness and his refusal to give up.” In addition to Father Reid’s work in Northern Ireland, he spent years working to build peace between Spanish and Basque communities.
A funeral for Father Alec Reid was held on Wednesday, November 27 in Belfast. During the ceremony, Fr. Kelleher, a close and trusted associate, said that “everything Father Reid learned about peacemaking was gleaned from the streets of Belfast.” There, he learned that “the dignity of the human person is the supreme moral value in all human affairs.”
Father Alec Reid was 82.