TDs past and present from across the Longford-Westmeath constituency have paid tribute to former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds who passed away on Thursday morning (August 21 ).
His fellow Fianna Fáil party member Mary O’Rourke led the tributes, saying that he was “always very active in bringing industry to the constituency. He worked hard for the good of the county and the constituency. We were rivals, as we were seeking the same votes. But we always both got elected.
“He will be remembered for a lot of things, but most of all I remember his devotion and love for his wife Kathleen and his family, they were his bedrock,” she added.
A native of Rooskey, Co Roscommon, Mr Reynolds was educated at Summerhill College in Sligo before going on to work for CIÉ. He later developed a number of business interests, promoting bands and setting up dance halls including the Horizon Ballroom in Mullingar, and establishing C&D Petfoods in Edgeworthstown.
Mr Reynolds was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1977, and served as Minister in the Departments of Transport, Industry, Commerce, and Finance, eventually succeeding Charles Haughey as party leader in 1992. He was Taoiseach from 1992-1994.
He will be remembered for the role he played in the Northern Ireland peace process and the 1993 Downing Street Declaration.
Current Longford-Westmeath TDs also paid tribute yesterday. Deputy James Bannon (FG ) said: “When Albert Reynolds became Taoiseach in 1992, I was mayor of Longford and I was delighted to host a civic reception at the time to mark his appointment... he contributed much to community life in the Midlands and throughout the country and there is no doubt that he enriched the lives of those who were lucky enough to know him.”
Deputy Robert Troy (FF ) added “My family campaigned for Albert over many years and we feel privileged to have had the opportunity to do so. It was a great honour when his son Philip nominated me to contest the last general election to follow in his father’s footsteps.”
Labour’s Deputy Willie Penrose said: “I would have known Albert Reynolds as a constituency TD... He was a very important provider of employment for the region, during a period when there were very few jobs to be got locally.”
Deputy Gabrielle McFadden (FG ) also extended her sympathy to the Reynolds family.
“He was the same vintage as my father, and they would have run in the same general election. The loss of a father after a long illness is hard on a family, particularly when it is such a public process.”