Tributes paid to SDLP founder member Eddie McGrady

Former MP described as ‘a Christian, a democrat and a patriotic Irishman’

Eddie McGrady photographed wiping clean the election office plaque, after handing in his nomination papers for South Down in 2005. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Eddie McGrady photographed wiping clean the election office plaque, after handing in his nomination papers for South Down in 2005. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 15:04

Public representatives from Stormont, Dublin and London along with members of civic, cultural, state and sporting bodies have attended the funeral of SDLP founder member Eddie McGrady.

Hundreds packed St Patrick’s church in Downpatrick for the requiem mass for the former South Down MP, who had spent 50 years in public service. The town centre came to a standstill as the cortege made its way from Mr McGrady’s home in the parish of Saul on the outskirts of the town.

Mourners were led by the former MP’s daughter and sons, Paula, Jerome and Conaill; and his eight grandchildren and many members from his large family circle.

They were met at the church by the chief celebrant, Very Rev Feargal McGrady, a nephew of the deceased; along with Canon Sean Rogan, parish priest of Downpatrick and Fr Paul Alexander of Saul parish.

The clergy of the diocese of Down and Connor were represented by assistant Bishop Anthony Farquhar and a special message was read to mourners written by Bishop Noel Treanor who was unable to attend.

Among the congregation were all the members of the SDLP Assembly party and its Westminster MPs including party leader Alasdair McDonnell, Mark Durkan and Mr McGrady’s successor in South Down Margaret Ritchie.

Former leader John Hume and his wife Pat attended along with Seamus Mallon, Ivan Cooper, Brid Rodgers, Sean Farren, Ben Caraher and many others from the SDLP’s founding generation.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt attended as did independent unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon. Many unionist figures from Down District Council were also there.

Sinn Féin was represented by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the Alliance party by David Ford, while the DUP was represented by industry minister Arlene Foster.

The Government was represented by Fergus O’Dowd and the President by Cmmdt James Galvin.

The British government was represented by the Northern Secretary, Theresa Villiers.

Ministers from the local Protestant churches were joined by representatives of the many causes with which Mr McGrady was associated throughout his long career. These ranged from the GAA to youth, cultural and arts bodies and the long campaign for a new hospital in Downpatrick. It was in that hospital where Mr McGrady died on Monday after a long illness.

Mr McGrady was buried afterwards at the small cemetery in Saul alongside his wife, Patricia, who died in 2003.