President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny have led tributes to former taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, who died in the early hours of this Thursday morning.
Mr Reynolds, who was 81, was first elected to the Dáil in 1977 for Fianna Fáil in the Longford-Westmeath constituency. He succeeded Mr Charlie Haughey as taoiseach and party leader in February 1992. Mr Reynolds served as taoiseach for two terms in a short period and in that time made a huge to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Mr Reynolds was a frequent visitor to Clare, and Shannon in particular, when he held the industry portfolio in cabinet. He also met a number of VIPs at Shannon Airport.
President Higgins said, “I have learned with great sadness of the death of former taoiseach and a member of the Council of
State, Albert Reynolds. I wish to express my deepest sympathy to Kathleen and the entire Reynolds family.
Albert Reynolds will be remembered as a most dynamic cabinet minister and a taoiseach with courage, who made a very important contribution to the dialogue which led to the Northern Ireland peace process. When I served in cabinet with him, I found him to be very supportive of many of the cultural initiatives which I introduced. I recall his great courtesy and relaxed manner in all our dealings on various issues.
He was also a successful businessman and continually used his business contacts in his work on Northern Ireland.
Former taoiseach Reynolds was committed to serving the people of Ireland with all of his energy. It is appropriate that we pay tribute to his significant contribution to our contemporary society.”
In his tribute, Mr Kenny said,“ It is with great regret that I learned this morning of the death of former taoiseach Albert Reynolds.
“I extend my sympathies and condolences to his wife Kathleen, his children and his extended family on his sad passing. I also extend my sympathies to Fianna Fáil leader, Micheal Martin and to the Fianna Fáil party on the death of their former leader.
“Albert Reynolds brought an energy and drive to the development of business and economic growth during his tenure in office as minister for industry and as minister for finance.”
Mr Kenny further acknowledged, “As taoiseach he played an important part in bringing together differing strands of political opinion in Northern Ireland and as a consequence made an important contribution to the development of the peace process, which eventually lead to the Good Friday Agreement.