Taoiseach pays tribute to ‘great light’ Mandela

Higgins, Gilmore, Martin and Adams pay tribute to anti-apartheid leader who died last night

Former president Mary McAleese with Nelson Mandela at a ceremony in Trinity College on April 11th, 2000, when he was conferred with honorary degrees from The University of Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke.

Former president Mary McAleese with Nelson Mandela at a ceremony in Trinity College on April 11th, 2000, when he was conferred with honorary degrees from The University of Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke.

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 06:14

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has paid tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela following his death last night.

“A great light has been extinguished,” Mr Kenny said of Mr Mandela’s passing.

“The name Mandela stirred our conscience and our hearts. It became synonymous with the pursuit of dignity and freedom across the globe,” he said.

“The boy from the Transkei has finished his long walk. His journey transformed not just South Africa, but humanity itself.”

Mr Kenny offered his deepest sympathies on behalf of the Government and Irish public to Mr Mandela’s “family, to his friends and supporters, and to the Government and the people of South Africa.”

President Michael D. Higgins also offered his sympathies to one of “history’s greatest leaders”.

“It is with deepest sadness that I have learned of the death of former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela,” he said.

“On behalf of the people of Ireland, I offer sincere condolences to his family and the people of South Africa. Nelson Mandela is one of history’s greatest leaders; a man whose unprecedented courage and dedication broke down the cruel barriers of apartheid in South Africa and led the nation into a new and democratic age.”

Mr Higgins said the “immense moral force that was Nelson Mandela” was built on his commitment to people and that he was motivated by a deep “humanity and limitless compassion that was delivered with modesty and a powerful simplicity”.

“His journey to the ending of apartheid and into a new chapter in South African and world history was long, hazardous and involved considerable self-sacrifice.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said Mr Mandela had “a truly global presence” and no words could express the debt of gratitude due to him.

“We all feel part of his extended worldwide family, sharing in the sadness at his death and the celebration of his life,” he said. “No few words can express the debt of gratitude that is due to Mr Mandela for all that he achieved and stood for. Quite simply, he transformed South Africa, and he changed the world.”

Mr Gilmore said that through the Irish Embassy in Pretoria he had sent “our deepest sympathies and condolences to Mr Mandela’s family and to all of the people of South Africa”.

Mr Gilmore said Mr Mandela “greatly appreciated” Ireland’s love for him and the State’s friendship and support to South Africa in its struggle to end “the evil of apartheid”.

“Our world is a poorer place for Nelson Mandela’s passing, but a far richer and better place thanks to his life. May he rest in peace, and may his values, his hopes, his wisdom and his inspiration live on,” Mr Gilmore added.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin described Mr Mandela as an “icon of peace”.

“His courage, his sacrifice and his unwavering faith in humanity was an inspiration to all of us,” he said. “He has inspired many generations of people across the world, and that legacy will continue long after his passing.”

“While his death is a massive loss particularly for the people of South Africa, Nelson Mandela’s message of peace will endure for many generations to come.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said it was with deep sadness he learned of Mr Mandela’s death.

“Nelson Mandela was a towering figure and an inspiration to freedom loving people the world over,” he said.

“I wish to extend on my own behalf and that of Sinn Fein, my heartfelt sympathy to Madiba’s family, to the ANC and to the people of South Africa. Ní bheidh a leithéad ann arís.”