Tributes to NI peace process priest Fr Gerry Reynolds

Redemptorist, credited with bringing sides together during the Troubles, was 80

Fr Gerry Reynolds, a priest credited for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process, has died aged 80. The Redemptorist priest based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast, died in the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday after a short illness. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Fr Gerry Reynolds, a priest credited for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process, has died aged 80. The Redemptorist priest based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast, died in the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday after a short illness. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

 

Fr Gerry Reynolds, a priest credited for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process, has died aged 80.

The Redemptorist priest based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast, died in the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday after a short illness.

Fr Reynolds, a Co Limerick native, was well known for his cross-community work and efforts to tackle sectarianism. He worked at Clonard for more than 30 years, arriving when the Troubles were ongoing.

The monastery was the focus of secret negotiations between Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume which provided an impetus for the start of the peace process in the early 1990s.

The discussions were initiated by the late Fr Alec Reid, a close friend of Fr Reynolds.

The rector of Clonard Monastery, Fr Noel Kehoe, said Fr Reynolds would be “greatly missed by his Redemptorist confreres and colleagues, his family, friends, and the many people whose lives he touched through his Ecumenical, Peace and Reconciliation Ministries.”

Mr Adams said Fr Reynolds was a “champion of the peace process”.

“Along with Fr Reid and Fr Des Wilson he was central to efforts to develop a peace process years before it eventually took root and he believed totally in the primacy of dialogue,” he said.

“Fr Reynolds embraced the importance of dialogue with other churches. He was a leader in ecumenical outreach and was instrumental in helping to facilitate discussions between members of the Protestant churches and Irish republicans.”

SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood said he had lost a “great friend” and that “Gerry Reynolds was a holy man who touched the lives of countless numbers”.

“He brought people together. Across our community, our churches and our conflict he worked quietly and relentlessly forging new relationships so that old differences could be resolved,” Mr Attwood said. “He was forever working to make peace. His special work with Fr Alec Reid was one example of this. His life was defined by such work, seeking out the opportunity for good to prevail.”

PA