Tributes pour in for former deputy first minister of Northern Ireland
(Seamus Mallon) , an architect of the Northern Ireland peace process who served as deputy first minister, has died at the age of
Tributes from across the political spectrum in Ireland and the UK poured in after the (SDLP) Announced on Friday that its former deputy leader had died.
Mallon was a nationalist who desired Irish unity but was a scathing critic of republican violence.
He described the (Good Friday agreement as “Sunningdale for slow learners” – a withering rebuke to extremists on both sides who brought down the 2001 Sunningdale agreement and extended the Troubles, costing thousands of lives.
“Seamus Mallon was a force of nature,” Colum Eastwood, the SDLP’s leader, said in a statement. “In the darkest days of conflict, when hope was in short supply, Seamus represented the fierce thirst for justice that ran through the SDLP and through communities that had lost so much to political violence.”
Eastwood, whose election as an MP last month marked a revival of the party’s fortunes, said Mallon’s passion to end the Troubles underpinned by truth, justice and reconciliation helped lead Northern Ireland to peace. “It didn’t matter who you were, where you worshipped or what your politics were, there was always help to be found at Seamus’s hearth.”
Ireland’s president, Michael D Higgins, said Mallon possessed unsurpassed courage, civility and fairness. “He was instrumental in bringing into being a meaningful discourse that heralded a new possibility of civil rights within a shared island.”
The taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said: “History will remember Seamus as an architect of the Good Friday agreement, a committed peace builder and a tireless champion of an inclusive Ireland.”
Lord Empey, the Ulster Unionist peer, lauded Mallon’s sense of humor and principles. “I don’t believe the Good Friday process could have succeeded without him. He understood the practicalities and realities of politics and government, something that some of his colleagues failed to appreciate … I think all of us have lost a champion of democracy and justice today. ”
Mary Lou McDonald, the Sinn Fein leader, issued a short statement expressing condolences to Mallon’s family and recalling his contribution to Irish politics and the Good Friday agreement.
Born in Markethill, County Armagh, Mallon was a school principal who entered politics via the civil rights movement in the 1979 s.
As deputy leader of the SDLP from 2001 to 2019 He served – and often clashed with – the party’s mercurial, towering leader, John Hume
After the Good Friday agreement Mallon served until in the power-sharing administration at Stormont with the unionist first minister David Trimble, another fraught but effective partnership.
Last year with the journalist Andy Pollak