Warm tributes for priest who helped end the Troubles
FATHER Alec Reid whispered "there goes the last gun out of Irish politics" after witnessing the historical decommissioning of IRA weapons in 2005.
The remarkable statement was recounted by Fr Reid's close friend, Rev Dr Harold Good, at the late priest's thanksgiving Mass in the Redemptorist Marianelle Chapel in Rathgar.
The 82-year-old was described as a "Dub" who later became a "Tipp man" after developing a love for hurling.
But it was his deep-rooted belief in helping those affected by the Troubles that took centre stage during the service.
Fr Reid was described as a "model peacemaker" whose "courage and remarkable vision" will be missed.
Dr Good recounted the moment when Fr Reid witnessed the decommissioning of IRA weapons in 2005.
He said: "We stood quietly and witnessed the very last moments of that decommissioning process, and Alec whispered in my ear, 'There goes the last gun out of Irish politics'."
Fr Michael Kelleher dedicated part of his homily to Fr Reid's deep love for Gaelic games.
Mourners were told he would often compare intense peace negotiations to a hurling match.
When talks were going badly, Fr Reid would say: "Well, we will have to put the Holy Spirit in goal." When progress was being made, he would move the Holy Spirit to centre forward.
It was the community of Clonard in West Belfast where Fr Reid felt most at home.
Fr Kelleher said: "Day and night, people were looking for him, so much so that there were times when people had to be told he simply wasn't available."
One of the first to arrive at yesterday's Mass was President Michael D Higgins, who later shared a few words with Fr Reid's aunt Ita Kavanagh.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald were present. Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by Cdr Alan Bolger.
Fr Reid will be buried in Belfast tomorrow, with a picture of Pope Francis in his hands.