Tributes have been paid to Fr Gerry Reynolds, a priest credited for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process, who has died aged 80.
The Redemptorist priest based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast, died in the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday (November 30) after a short illness.
Fr Reynolds, a Co. Limerick native, was well known for his cross-community work and efforts to tackle sectarianism.
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”.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said Fr Reynolds was a “champion of the peace process” who “was central to efforts to develop a peace process years before it eventually took root and he believed totally in the primacy of dialogue”.
“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,” he said.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described Fr Reynolds as “one of the unsung heroes” of the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Mr Martin said Fr Reynolds “was one of the key intermediaries who helped coax those involved in violence onto the democratic path”.
“That was absolutely critical work that has never been properly recognised,” he said.
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.
“He was forever working to make peace.
“His life was defined by such work, seeking out the opportunity for good to prevail,” Mr Attwood said.