Church leaders in Ireland have paid warm tribute to the late South African president Nelson Mandela.
The Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke has described the death as "the end of an era". Nelson Mandela "represented for all of us a new beginning for all the people of South Africa, " he said. "His powerful faith in a better future for all sustained his country through the birth pangs of creating a new and finer society."
He continued: “I join with so many others in remembering the people of South Africa in my thoughts and prayers at this time.”
The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson said “the whole world unites in sadness at the news of the death of Nelson Mandela.” He said “we in Ireland express our sympathy to his family and to the people of South Africa with whom he suffered and among whom he did so much to bring unity in his country.”
He continued “personal stamina and generous beliefs led him to champion a better world for everyone, however uphill the struggle continues to be.”
Books of condolences opened in Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral will be available to sign until 5pm, and between 9am and 5pm over the next seven days.
Similarly at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin books of condolence will be open there from 9am tomorrow until 5pm and for the following seven days. In both instances all are welcome.
The Presbyterian Moderator Rt Rev Dr Rob Craig has expressed his sadness at the news. "The world has lost one of the great statesmen of recent times," he said. There was much to learn from his life particularly the way "he did not repeat the mistakes of the successive governments that tried to silence him and suppress his ideals," Dr Craig said. "He embraced all the people of South Africa allowing their views and opinions to be heard," he said.
He continued that “the prayers of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland are with his family and friends and for the nation of South Africa as they mourn the loss of the man who was inspirational and instrumental in transforming their country into what it is today.”
The President of the Methodist Church Rev Dr Heather Morris remarked how Mandela "with quiet dignity and robust eloquence, moved a country entrenched in spite and prejudice slowly, deftly towards a new dawn." She recalled how he had said himself "I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying."
She concluded: “the Methodist church educated Nelson Mandela, and we mourn him. On behalf of the Methodist family in Ireland, I send our thoughts and prayers to the people of South Africa as they mourn and celebrate the father of a new nation in an ancient land who at last has completed his long walk to freedom.”