Fr Alec Reid ‘was peace messenger’ (UTV)

Father Alex Reid has been hailed as “a messenger of Christ who announced peace”, at his funeral Mass in Clonard Monastery in west Belfast.

The 82-year-old passed away in a Dublin hospital last Friday and was remembered for his role as a go-between and peace broker for the IRA and British Government during the Troubles.

The homily for him on Wednesday recalled how he “loved the people of Belfast”.

“He said that whatever he learned about peace-making, he learned on these streets,” Father Michael Kelleher told mourners.

Father Alec Reid was born in Nenagh, Co Tipperary in 1931.

He joined the Redemptorist Order and went on to spend four decades based at Clonard Monastery.

He was a long-time friend of Gerry Adams and arranged ground-breaking talks between the Sinn Féin president and then SDLP leader John Hume, which led to the 1993 Downing Street Declaration.

In 1988, the priest witnessed the IRA murder of two British soldiers in west Belfast. He tried to save the men’s lives, despite being told he would be shot for his efforts, and performed the last rites.

In commending this artisan of peace to the mercy of God, we call on that small minority of people who continue to believe that violence, destruction and fear have any part in human affairs to think again.

Bishop Noel Trainor
Father Alec Reid, alongside the Reverend Harold Good, also acted as a witness to the IRA decommissioning of weapons in 2005.

At the time, the priest described how the process was guarded by a man with an assault rifle who then became emotional when his gun was handed over for processing as it was the last weapon in the IRA’s arsenal.

“As Father Alec knew only too well, the process of building peace after decades of violent conflict requires commitment to the often slow and arduous process of healing, encounter, dialogue and compromise,” Bishop Noel Trainor said, during the funeral service.

“The wounds of violence and injustice are so visceral and deep that, for many, even the possibility of healing will inevitably and understandably be gradual and slow – if it is possible at all.

“Peace-building is a task and a call to Christians particularly, to which Father Alec would ask us to remain alive and sensitive, allowing our hearts and minds to be touched and transformed by a shared commitment to love of neighbour and to that truth which ultimately sets us free.”

Former Irish President Mary McAleese also conducted a reading during the service.

“Where violence sharpened tongues and hardened hearts, there came the rather humble figure of Al Reid.

“He saw spaces for hope to grow – he saw ways to soften hearts,” she said.

Following the service at Clonard, the highly respected cleric will be laid to rest at Milltown cemetery.


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