Alec Reid

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Father Alec Reid

Born5 August 1931
Died (aged 82)
Resting placeMilltown Cemetery, Belfast
Nationality Irish
Occupation Redemptorist Priest
Known forRole in Northern Ireland peace process

Father Alec Reid, C.Ss.R. (5 August 1931 22 November 2013) was an Irish Catholic priest noted for his facilitator role in the Northern Ireland peace process, [1] a role BBC journalist Peter Taylor subsequently described as "absolutely critical" to its success. [2]



Born and raised in Nenagh, County Tipperary, [3] Reid was professed as a Redemptorist in 1950, and ordained a priest seven years later. [4] For the next four years, he gave Parish Missions in Limerick, Dundalk and Galway (Esker), before moving to Clonard monastery in Belfast, where he spent almost the next forty years. The Redemptorist Monastery at Clonard stands on the interface between the Catholic nationalist Falls Road and the Protestant loyalist Shankill Road areas of west Belfast. [5]

He died in a Dublin hospital on 22 November 2013.

Peace work

In the late 1980s, Reid facilitated a series of meetings between Gerry Adams and John Hume, in an effort to establish a 'Pan-Nationalist front' to enable a move toward renouncing violence in favour of negotiation. Reid then acted as their contact person with the Irish Government in Dublin from a 1987 meeting with Charles Haughey up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. In this role, which was not public knowledge at the time, he held meetings with various Taoisigh, and particularly with Martin Mansergh, advisor to various Fianna Fáil leaders.[ citation needed ]. After the eventual success of the peace negotiations, Gerry Adams said “there would not be a peace process at this time without [Father Reid’s] diligent doggedness and his refusal to give up.” [6]

In 1988 in Belfast, Reid delivered the last rites to two British Army Royal Signals corporals killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) – an event known as the corporals killings – after they drove into the funeral cortège of IRA member Kevin Brady, who had been killed in the Milltown Cemetery attack. A photograph of his involvement in that incident became one of the starkest and most enduring images of the Troubles. Unknown until years later, Reid was carrying a letter from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams to Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume outlining Adams' suggestions for a political solution to the Troubles. [2] Adams later told the BBC in 2019 that Reid also advised U.S Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith during the peace process, stating "He (Fr Reid) was talking to her (Kennedy-Smith) on the side and she was talking to her brother Teddy (Kennedy)." [7]

After he moved to Dublin, Reid was involved in peace efforts in the Basque Country. In January 2003, he was awarded the Sabino Arana 2002 "World Mirror" prize, by the Sabino Arana Foundation in Bilbao, in recognition of his efforts at promoting peace and reconciliation. Reid and a Methodist minister, the Rev. Harold Good, announced that the IRA had decommissioned their arms at a news conference in September 2005. [8]

Reid was involved in controversy in November 2005 when he made comments during a meeting in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church concerning the Unionist community in Northern Ireland. [9] Reid said: "You don't want to hear the truth. The reality is that the nationalist community in Northern Ireland were treated almost like animals by the unionist community. They were not treated like human beings. They were treated like the Nazis treated the Jews". [10] [11] He later apologised, saying his remarks had been made in the heat of the moment. [2] In an interview with CNN, Reid said that "The IRA were, if you like, a violent response to the suppression of human rights". [12]


See also

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  1. 1 2 "BBC News - Northern Ireland peace process priest Fr Alec Reid dies". 22 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Peter Crutchley (31 August 2014). "IRA ceasefire 20 years on: The priest who brokered the peace". BBC news UK. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  3. Peace process priest Alec Reid dies Nenagh Guardian, 22 November 2013.
  4. "Rev Alec Reid [ permanent dead link ]". Queen's University Belfast. Retrieved on 15 August 2008.
  5. Brother Brendan Mulhall. Father Alec Reid C.Ss.R. Archived 3 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine . Redemptorists Denver, 17 May 2006
  6. "Remembering Father Alec Reid" . Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  7. Simpson, Mark (1 February 2019). "Gerry Adams: New York in 1994 visit 'pivotal to peace'". BBC News. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  8. Cullen, Kevin Maintaining belief in peace aided N. Ireland transformation. The Boston Globe, 27 September 2005.
  9. Unionists 'like Nazis', says priest. David Sharrock Ireland Correspondent. The Times (London, England), Thursday, 13 October 2005; pg. 17; Issue 68517
  10. Irish priest provokes fury with unionist 'Nazi' jibe Breaking, 13 October 2005.
  11. Unionist anger over Nazi remarks. BBC News, 13 October 2005. Retrieved on 9 August 2008.
  12. ETA Announces Ceasefire. CNN Transcript, 22 March 2006.
  13. "Tipperary Peace Convention". Tipperary Peace Convention. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  14. Ralph Riegel (21 August 2013). "Mandela, Clinton and Geldof among the former winners". Irish Independent . Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  15. "2008 Peace Award & Annual Lecture – Harold Good & Alec Reid". The Gandhi Foundation. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  16. Honour for Peacemaker Priest Archived 20 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine University of Ulster News Release, 4 July 2008