Reynolds remembered as man of ‘passion and courage’

Senior political figures join family of former taoiseach at removal in Donnybrook

Queues at the Mansion House, Dublin, on Saturday where people was given the opportunity to see Albert Reynolds reposing. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins

Queues at the Mansion House, Dublin, on Saturday where people was given the opportunity to see Albert Reynolds reposing. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins

Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 01:00

The late former taoiseach Albert Reynolds was described as a man of “passion, purpose and courage” at his removal service at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny led a large number of senior politicians and other prominent public figures who joined members of Mr Reynolds’s family on Saturday evening.

Mr Reynolds, taoiseach from February 1992 until November 1994, died on Thursday, aged 81, after a long illness.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and his successor Brian Cowen were in attendance, as was former minister for finance Charlie McCreevy.

Former taoiseach John Bruton of Fine Gael and former Labour minister for education Niamh Breathnach were present at the service.

Also in attendance were High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns and former attorney general John Murray.

Msgr Lorcan O’Brien told those gathered in the church that Mr Reynolds was “rooted in the real”.

Mr Reynolds’s wife Kathleen was “the love of his life”, he told the gathering.

Msgr O’Brien also welcomed Mr Reynolds’s seven children: Miriam, Philip, Emer, Leonie, Albert, Cathy and Andrea, and their families.

Mr Reynolds’s daughters had arrived earlier holding a framed photograph of their father.

Mr Reynolds’s brother Jim was there with his children, including music promoter John.

“Albert Reynolds was a man who wholeheartedly engaged with the realities of his life and engaged with passion, with purpose and with courage. His achievements were significant,” Msgr O’Brien said.

Msgr O’Brien said Mr Reynolds’s “long, debilitating illness” had been a “brutal reality”. His family said last year that he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Declining years

“His declining years were a gradual movement to God. On the journey he was accompanied by grace,” Msgr O’Brien said.

Also present were Ireland’s EU commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and a number of other former Fianna Fáil ministers, including Michael Woods, Michael Smith, Pat Carey, Frank Fahey and Michael O’Kennedy.

Fianna Fáil TDs Barry Cowen and Timmy Dooley were joined by former Seanad leader Donie Cassidy and former TD Margaret Conlon.

Broadcaster Seán O’Rourke attended, as did Seán Duignan, the former RTÉ political editor who served as government press secretary while Mr Reynolds was taoiseach. Bart Cronin, a senior aide to Mr Reynolds, was present.

Independent TDs

Minister of State with Responsibility for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring of Fine Gael, attended, as did Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett.

Independent TDs Shane Ross and Finian McGrath were also present.

Dr Peter Staunton, long- time doctor to Mr Reynolds, was among the congregation.

Businessman Ulick McEvaddy and former secretary general of Fianna Fáil, Pat Farrell, currently head of communications with Bank of Ireland, were present.

Dermot Gallagher, former secretary general at the Department of Foreign Affairs, was also among the gathering.

Fr Brian D’Arcy, who will be the chief celebrant at today’s requiem Mass, attended the removal service.

Noreen McManus, wife of businessman JP McManus, was in attendance, as was Pat Desmond, wife of Dermot Desmond.

From the legal profession, Circuit Court judge Margaret Heneghan and District Court judge Gráinne O’Neill were among those gathered, while former attorney general Eoghan Fitzsimons was also in attendance.

Senior counsel John Aylmer and Richard Kean were present, as well as barrister Deirdre Hughes.

Msgr O’Brien told the congregation: “We mourn his death. We give thanks for the gift of the man that he was and for the much that he achieved. We honour his memory. We acknowledge his loss. We pray for him, for his family and ourselves.”

He said Mr Reynolds’ family had shown “love, respect, support and care” for him “in the days of his decline”.

This was “a striking witness to a loving God at the heart of your reality”, he concluded.