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Tributes paid to SDLP's Eddie McGrady

McGrady, who passed away today, was one of the founding members of the SDLP.

Image: Bill Smyth/PA Archive

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to founding member of the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP), Eddie McGrady who died today, aged 78.

As well as being one of the founding members of the SDLP in 1970, McGrady was its first Chairman  and a member of the first Nothern Ireland Police Board. He was also an MP for South Down for 23 years until his retirement in 2010.

Commenting today, President Michael D Higgins said: “During the years of conflict and tension, Eddie McGrady’s personal dignity and measured words embodied the values of decency, mutual respect and the primacy of democratic politics.”

He played a crucial role in establishing a dispensation of peace and partnership in Northern Ireland and will be greatly missed by his colleagues in the SDLP, by the people of South Down who he served so well and, of course, by his beloved family and many friends.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore described McGrady as one of the party’s “finest parliamentarians and negotiators”.

“He was a man of immense integrity who, during the Troubles, showed extraordinary personal courage in the face of repeated threats against his life” he said.

Eddie served the people of South Down tirelessly over fifty years in public life. He lived in Downpatrick and often quoted Saint Patrick as a model for reconciliation between the political traditions on this island. Saint Patrick’s words, written at the end of his life, apply equally to Eddie as we mourn his passing: “I have not laboured for nothing. My travels have not been in vain.”

“Without Eddie and his party, Ireland would be a very different place. We are in their debt.”

McGrady is survived by his daughter Paula and two sons Conaill and Gerry.

Read: Noel Davern, former Fianna Fáil TD, dies at age of 67>

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