Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds dies aged 81

ALBERT REYNOLDS, who in his few short years as Ireland’s Taoiseach was instrumental in making an enduring contribution to Ireland with his peace initiative that helped bring about the end of 25 years of violence in Ireland.

A native of County Roscommon, Mr Reynolds was educated at Summerhill College in County Sligo. He began working as a clerk with the state transport service and surprised his colleagues when he left what many consideredto be a job-for-life in the state company.A man with an eye for an opportunity, he and his brother Jim cottoned on to the dance hall craze of the late 1950’s and 60’s and built a dance hall empire. Fantastically wealthy he invested in a number of businesses including a pet food company, a bacon factory, a fish-exporting operation and a hire purchase company.

He entered politics in the 1977 when he was elected as TeachtaDála (TD) for FiannaFáil in the Longford-Westmeath constituency. Support for Charles Haughey led to his appointment as Transport Minister, where he was involved in a surreal incident when an AerLingus plane was hi-jacked, the hijacker promised the safe return of the passengers and plane with his main demand being the revealing of the Third Secret of Fatima. The incident was resolved in Paris with no injuries.

His main achievement during his term as Taoiseach was advancing the peace process in Northern Ireland. He initiated negotiations throughout 1993 with the British PM, John Major. On December 15,1993 a Joint Downing Street Declaration was signed in London. Reynolds maintained discussions with Northern nationalist parties. Eventually, along with John Hume and Gerry Adams, he persuaded the IRA to call for a complete ceasefire on August 31, 1994.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen, two sons and five daughters.

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