John Major on Albert Reynolds: ‘We had the fiercest rows without leaving scars’

British politicians pay tribute to man who played crucial role in Downing Street declaration

Former British prime minister John Major said he ‘treasured’ the last time he had met former taoiseach Albert Reynolds. File photograph: Andrew Shaw/Reuters

Former British prime minister John Major said he ‘treasured’ the last time he had met former taoiseach Albert Reynolds. File photograph: Andrew Shaw/Reuters

Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 17:20

Former British prime minister John Major led international tributes to Albert Reynolds, describing the former taoiseach as a “loveable and remarkable” friend.

Mr Reynolds had been at the heart of the peace process, Mr Major said. “We’ve been able to have the fiercest of rows without leaving scars. I understood Albert’s difficulties and he understood mine,” he said, adding that “Albert was a man prepared to take risks.”

He told RTÉ radio he had “treasured” his last meeting with Mr Reynolds and said theirs was a relationship “unlike any other that I had during my time in government”.

Twitter tributes

Much of the international reaction to the death of former taoiseach Albert Reynolds came from the United Kingdom where former and serving politicians paid tribute to his work in shaping the peace process.

“Albert Reynolds played a vital role in stimulating and encouraging a peace process that in time led to the Good Friday Agreement and to today’s peace,” said former prime minister Tony Blair. “He had the vision to see the opportunity and the courage to act on it. We should be very grateful to him for that.”

Prime minister David Cameron also noted Mr Reynolds’s role in the peace process. “I’m sad to hear of the death of Albert Reynolds. His partnership with Sir John Major led to the crucial Downing Street declaration in 1993,” Mr Cameron tweeted.

Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers echoed those comments. “I heard with great sadness of the death of Albert Reynolds. He will be long remembered for his courageous and imaginative contributions to the peace process,” she said.

Former US president Bill Clinton said Mr Reynolds risked much in the pursuit of peace in the North.

“I am saddened by the passing of former prime minister of Ireland Albert Reynolds, who worked hard and risked much as taoiseach to advance the Northern Ireland peace process,” he said.

“I will always be grateful for his encouragement, advice, and support in the peace process. I join with his wife, Kathleen, his children, his many friends, and the people of Ireland in mourning his loss.”

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz paid his respects to the former taoiseach over Twitter. “Saddened by the passing of former taoiseach Albert Reynolds, the man who was never afraid of peace for Northern Ireland,” he said.