Funeral for N Ireland peacemaker priest

A Catholic priest who carried messages between the IRA and politicians in a bid to end Northern Ireland’s 30-year armed conflict will be remembered at a funeral mass.

Father Alec Reid, 82, died in a Dublin hospital last week.

He tried to save two soldiers shot dead in West Belfast by the IRA in 1988 after they became trapped at a republican funeral and a photo of him praying over the dying troops became world famous.

He relayed messages between Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and the leader of non-violent nationalism, the SDLP’s John Hume, which led to the peace process, paramilitary ceasefires in 1994 and the Good Friday peace agreement four years later.

Thousands of Protestants, Catholics, soldiers and police were killed during the conflict.

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process have launched a pre-Christmas “surge” in activity with a partially exploded car bomb at a Belfast shopping centre the latest near-miss.

The police have responded with check points and more frequent patrols.

Requiem Mass for Fr Reid will be held at Clonard in West Belfast on Wednesday.

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