Memorial service for Nelson Mandela at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin

‘We’ve lost a great, great patriot’, says South African Ambassador

South African Ambassador to Ireland , Azwindini Jeremiah Ndou: “Thank you deeply for keeping our nation in your hearts. He cannot be replaced as a person but his legacy lives on.”Photograph: Alan Betson

South African Ambassador to Ireland , Azwindini Jeremiah Ndou: “Thank you deeply for keeping our nation in your hearts. He cannot be replaced as a person but his legacy lives on.”Photograph: Alan Betson

Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 23:29

Nelson Mandela was “the most inspirational man on the earth in my life,” singer Christy Moore said last night. He felt “deeply privileged” to be taking part in the memorial service for the former South African President in Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. “(South African) Ambassador Jeremiah asked me to sing this song written 30 years ago by Wally Page and first performed at the Olympia in the 80s,” he said, and he sang Biko Drum.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn said “Dublin has lost a Freeman,” and recalled how then Lord Mayor Ben Briscoe proposed the honour be conferred on the still imprisoned Mandela in 1988. When Mandela came to Dublin in July 1990, just months after his release, to accept the honour from Lord Mayor Seán Haughey he heard the chants of the crows ‘Ooh...Aah..Paul McGrath’s Da.’ Lord Mayor Quinn said “that was greatly appreciated by Nelson Mandela...we are proud to call him one of our own.”

The large attendance included Col Brendan McAndrew ADC to President Higgins, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn, former Lord Mayor Seán Haughey, members of Dublin City Council, and members of the diplomatic corps.

Ambassador Jeremiah Ndou said “we’ve lost a great, great patriot, a father of the nation, a leader, a reconciler. And the worldhas lost an icon.” He said “thank you deeply for keeping our nation in your hearts. He cannot be replaced as a person but his legacy lives on.”

Ms Joan Burton, honorary secretary of the Irish Anti Apartheid Movement (IAAM) in the 1980s, said “few of us genuinely thought the hated apartheid system could ever end in our lifetime.” Mandela’s “generosity and forgiveness inspired millions round the globe.”

ICTU general secretary David Begg said Mandela “lived out the meaning of the Christian creed more than any other in history”, particularly where forgiveness and reconciliation were concerned.

Gearóid Kilgallen of the IAAM was applauded when he wondered whether it was too much to hope that “all those at the funeral (last Tuesday) might go home and reflect on the legacy of Mandela in tolerance, forgiveness, and peacemaking.”

Rafique Mottiar, also of IAAM, recalled how “some of the biggest protests against apartheid took place in Ireland.” He referred to protests against the Springboks at Lansdowne Road on Janaury 10th 1970. The following morning in Robben Island Nelson Mandela and colleagues “were beaten by the guards angry at the Irish protests.” Afterwards “the message from Nelson Mandela was ‘continue the protests’.

Prayers at the service were by the Dean of St Patrick’s Very Rev Victor Stacey, Presbyterian Rev Terence McCaughey, Methodist Rev John Stephens, Catholic Bishop Ray Field., with music by the Dexi Gospel Choir and Acoustic soul.