The US has paid tribute to peacemaker priest Fr Alec Reid.
The Redemptorist cleric, who set up talks between Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and then nationalist SDLP leader John Hume and acted as a conduit between the republican movement and the British government died yesterday in hospital at the age of 82.
In a statement the US Consulate paid tribute to his moral courage and said he had helped lay the foundations for the ongoing peace process.
“The United States extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Father Alec Reid, whose deep faith and moral courage helped lay the foundation for dialogue and progress in Northern Ireland, and his passing reminds us of the contributions made by so many along the path to peace.”
Fr Reid spent four decades at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast and witnessed the worst of the Troubles.
A photograph of him smeared in blood and kneeling over the body of a murdered British soldier in 1988 became one of the most iconic images from the conflict.
Years later, with paramilitary ceasefires delivered and the 1998 Good Friday peace accord signed, he acted as an independent witness to the decommissioning of the IRA’s arsenal of weapons.
The US statement continued: “The United States applauds the tremendous progress made by the people and institutions of Northern Ireland, and we will be there as a friend and partner as remaining challenges toward a shared future are resolved in the same spirit of dialogue and mutual respect.
“Those close to Fr Reid can be proud of his role, and his legacy offers a profoundly powerful inspiration to all of us.”
Fr Reid’s remains will repose at Marianella Chapel on Orwell Road in Rathgar in Dublin from 2pm to 8pm today and from 1pm to 8pm tomorrow.
A mass at Marianella Chapel will be held on Monday before the cortege makes its way to Belfast ahead of Wednesday’s funeral service at Clonard.