Current All-Ireland Senior hurling champions Tipperary will play a special tribute match to one of their former hurlers and one of the architects of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, the late Fr Alec Reid CssR later this month.
On Sunday 29 January, Antrim will host Tipperary for a challenge
match which features in a weekend of festivities dedicated to the memory
of the late Fr Reid, the Redemptorist priest originally from Nenagh who
played a crucial role in the Peace Process.
Fr Reid was a member of the Tipperary Minor hurling panel which won
the All-Ireland in 1949 and he was a joint-recipient of the 1995
Tipperary International Peace Award. Fr Reid was also named the
Tipperary Person of the Year by the Tipperary Association, Dublin in
Speaking about the festivities, the PRO of the Tipperary County Board Joe Bracken said “On January 29th
next at 9.30 am Mass in Clonard Monastery in Belfast, three
commemorative plaques will be presented in memory of Fr Alec Reid.
plaque will be presented to Clonard Monastery, one will be held in
reserve and will be placed in the redeveloped Casement Park and one will
be brought back to Tipperary.
Meanwhile at 12.30 pm on the same day
Tipperary will take on the Antrim Senior hurling team in Corrigan Park,
Belfast in a challenge game.”
Reid was professed as a Redemptorist in 1950, and ordained a priest
seven years later. 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 forty years.
Redemptorist Monastery at Clonard stands on the interface between
the Catholic Nationalist Falls Road and the Protestant Loyalist Shankill
Road areas of West Belfast.
In 1988 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 a
Republican funeral cortège in Belfast.
A photograph of his involvement
in that incident became one of the starkest and most enduring images of
the Troubles. It was not known until years later that Reid was carrying a
letter from Gerry Adams to John Hume outlining Adams’ suggestions for a
political solution to the Troubles.
In the late 1980s Reid facilitated a series of meetings between
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume in an effort
to establish a ‘Pan-Nationalist front’ to enable a move toward
renouncing violence in favour of negotiation. Fr 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 with Martin Mansergh, advisor to
various Fianna Fáil leaders.
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 Reverend Harold Good, announced at
a news conference in September 2005 that the IRA had decommissioned
He received the 2008 Gandhi Foundation International Peace
Award together with the Reverend Harold Good. He died in a Dublin
Hospital in November 2013 aged 82 years.