SDLP founder member Eddie McGrady dies

President says former South Down MP who embodied ‘decency,respect and primacy of politics’

Former South Down MP Eddie McGrady, who has died at the age of 78. Photograph. Bill Smyth/PA Wire

Former South Down MP Eddie McGrady, who has died at the age of 78. Photograph. Bill Smyth/PA Wire

Mon, Nov 11, 2013, 20:51

The former South Down MP and SDLP founder member Eddie McGrady has died aged 78. He had been ill for some time.

Mr McGrady spent 50 years as a councillor, member of the Assembly, MP and a minister in the short-lived power-sharing executive in 1974.

He won a Westminster seat for the SDLP at his fourth attempt in 1987, beating veteran unionist incumbent Enoch Powell.

He was widely respected in his constituency and built on his initial slender majority at the subsequent four general elections.

Party leader Alasdair McDonnell said: “Eddie helped to shape not only our party, but history, as he – along with John Hume, Seamus Mallon and others – helped to define the politics of an era and build the peace of our lifetime.”

Tributes have come from across the political spectrum.

President Michael D Higgins said Mr McGrady’s “personal dignity and measured words embodied the values of decency, mutual respect and the primacy of democratic politics”.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said: “Eddie McGrady, Seamus Mallon and John Hume were a formidable team at a time when Northern Ireland needed strong leadership.”

Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness tweeted: “Sorry to learn of the death of Eddie McGrady, My sympathy and condolences.”

Mr McGrady’s wife, Patricia (above), died in 2003 and he is survived by his three children, Paula, Jerome and Conaill.

News - direct to your inbox

Which Daily Digest would you like?

Politics on Twitter

Connect