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Statement from President Michael D Higgins on the death of Seamus Mallon

Date: Fri 24th Jan, 2020 | 18:25

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Seamus Mallon, former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, former member of Seanad Éireann, and lifelong civil rights campaigner. His reputation as a politician and community activist of unsurpassed courage, civility and fairness is held by all those who had the privilege of knowing him.

Few people have influenced the peace process in Northern Ireland more than Seamus Mallon, a formidable opponent and, a tough negotiator in speech and act, but always honest and honourable. He was a man who demonstrated integrity and courage in the face of opposition and threat, playing a vital role in building the peace process.

He was instrumental in bringing into being a meaningful discourse that heralded a new possibility of civil rights within a shared island.

Seamus Mallon served with distinction in Westminster, Stormont and in the Oireachtas as a member of Seanad Éireann and his ability to build relationships in support of peace and reconciliation leaves a lasting legacy, not just in the North but across Ireland.

I witnessed at first hand his deep commitment to seeing an end and a fair representation of the troubles in Northern Ireland and I am honoured to share the Freedom of Drogheda with him.

A person of deep humility in the little things as well as the major issues, Sabina and I have been fortunate to meet Seamus on many occasions and we were always struck by his great sense of humour and warmth of character. His death leaves a gap that will be difficult to fill.

To his daughter Orla, his grandchild, and all those who knew and loved him, Sabina and I send our deepest sympathy.

Suaimhneas síoraí dá anam.