By Anthony Neeson
Mourners, including Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, look on as the coffin bearing the remains of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon, is lowered into the ground beside St. James’ Church, Mullaghbrack, County Armagh, this after the funeral Mass. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie.
Political leaders from across Ireland have attended the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon.
Mr. Mallon passed away on Friday, January 24, aged 83.
A former deputy leader of the SDLP, where he served under John Hume, Mallon had also been appointed to the Irish Senate and served as MP for Newry/Armagh for nineteen years.
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Among those in attendance at Mr. Mallon’s funeral at St. James’ Church in Mullaghbrack, County Armagh, on Monday were Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill, as well as former taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former Northern Ireland First Minister, David Trimble.
Mr. Mallon’s wife Gertrude passed away just over three years ago.
As a key architect of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, mourners heard that Mr. Mallon had “made a real difference to the world.”
Archbishop Eamon Martin said Mr. Mallon “personally played a central role in the landmark events of our peace process.”
Following Mr. Mallon’s death, tributes had poured in for the former SDLP stalwart.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mr. Mallon was “a force of nature.”
Mr. Eastwood stated: “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.
“I joined the SDLP because of people like Seamus Mallon, his absolute opposition to the murder and maiming of our neighbors, his immense work to reform policing and deliver a new police service that could command the support of our entire community. His unrelenting commitment to making this a place we can all call home inspired so many young SDLP members.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was greatly saddened to learn of the death of Mr. Mallon, “one of Ireland’s greatest political leaders.”
Mr. 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. He always opposed sectarianism and discrimination in any form.
President Michael D Higgins said fewer people influenced the building of peace more than Seamus Mallon.
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said: “Seamus will be remembered for his contribution to Irish politics over many decades as the SDLP deputy leader and the key role he played in achieving the Good Friday Agreement.”
Mr. Mallon was buried in the grounds of St. James’ Church where he had been baptized.