In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we recognize Albert Reynolds. Reynolds was the former Irish leader who made the biggest gamble of his political career when he and British Prime Minister John Major secured and IRA ceasefire in 1993. A one-time promoter of country music gigs who later ran a pet food manufacturer, Reynolds pledged that peace in Northern Ireland would be his priority when he was elected taoiseach (government head) in 1993. Although he had backed stridently nationalist and divisive leaders in earlier years, he proved more pragmatic himself when dealing with Northern Ireland. In doing so, he was able to cobble together coalitions and factions to successfully reach a cease-fire. Three months after the cease-fire, Reynolds was out of office despite his popularity, mostly because of the rapidly-exploding priest/pedophilia scandals and the attorney general’s office impeding calls for priest extradition and prosecution – a cautious and poignant reminder of the fallibility of all of us to live with the integrity we for which we aspire.
Reynolds died in August, 2014 at age 81. Sinn Fein president recalled that Reynolds acted when it mattered, and Adams’s colleague Martin McGuinness said Reynolds would be remembered as a peacemaker. For us today, let’s simply reflect on Reynolds’ own words:
“I am convinced that nobody should be afraid of peace.”