Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland

01/24/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/24/2020 14:43

Statement by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D. on the pas

Press release

24 January 2020

Statement by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D.

on the passing of Seamus Mallon

On hearing of the death today of Seamus Mallon, the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., said:

'It was with great sorrow that I learned of Seamus Mallon's passing. On behalf of the Government, I want to express my deepest condolences to Seamus' daughter Órla, his son-in-law Mark, his granddaughter Lara and his wider family.

Seamus Mallon was a truly historic figure. He spent his entire career, indeed his entire life, working for peaceful, democratic and inclusive answers to Northern Ireland's political problems. He advocated for justice and equality, often in the face of threats, intimidation and vilification, displaying remarkable courage. He will be remembered as one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, a man who worked tirelessly for decades to try to bring about peace, and then reconciliation, on the island of Ireland.

Seamus Mallon had a long, distinguished political career, beginning as an SDLP councillor in 1973, and shortly afterwards serving in the newly established Northern Ireland Assembly. He was appointed a member of Seanad Eireann in 1982 and then served as a Westminster MP for almost 20 years. His political career culminated with his term as Deputy First Minister from 1998 to 2001, but he continued to represent the people of Newry and Armagh at Westminster until 2005. He ably represented the concerns of the nationalist community in Westminster, giving that community a strong and eloquent voice. He remains the only Irish politician to have served in Stormont, Leinster House and Westminster.

Seamus abhorred all violence and he bravely and consistently condemned all killings, from whatever source. Early in his public life, he made a promise to himself to visit the homes and attend the funerals of all the victims of political and sectarian violence in his Newry and Armagh constituency, He often faced criticism for this stance and spoke openly about the loneliness he often felt as a result of this position.

Seamus has left an indelible legacy on the island of Ireland. We have earlier this month witnessed the restoration of the power-sharing institutions in Stormont, institutions which Seamus himself helped to create in his role during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations. It is my sincerest hope that his life and his dedication to the principles of honesty, integrity and generosity will serve as an inspiration to the next generation of political leaders in Northern Ireland.

Seamus was completely devoted to his homeplace of Markethill and to South Armagh. He spoke openly about his experience of growing up within a predominately Protestant area and the effect that it had on his life - personal and political. He recognised that the only way to ensure lasting peace in Ireland was to foster understanding and generosity across all traditions. It was Seamus' wish, and indeed his life's work, that the island of Ireland become a 'shared home place' for people of all communities, backgrounds, and political beliefs.'

ENDSPress Office24 January 2020

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