Honour for Peacemaker Priest
4th July 2008
A Catholic priest who was one of the architects of the peace process has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Ulster at its summer graduations.
Fr Alex Reid, a Redemptorist, was awarded the Doctor of the University (DUniv) degree in recognition of his contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
A long time confidant of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, Fr Reid helped to broker the ground-breaking talks between Mr Adams and SDLP leader John Hume, who is now holder of the Tip O’Neill Chair at the University of Ulster.
The talks led to a common nationalist approach to politics in the north and later to the 1993 Downing Street Declaration. This paved the way for dialogue between the British and Irish governments and the republican and loyalist paramilitary groupings and, ultimately, to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Fr Reid was involved in one of the most graphic and enduring images of the Troubles when he was photographed praying over the body of one of the two corporals, David Howes and Derek Wood, who were killed by republicans on March 19, 1988, when they strayed into the funeral cortege in Andersonstown of one of the victims of a bomb and bullet attack by loyalist Michael Stone in Milltown Cemetery.
It was to Fr Reid that the IRA turned when the group came under pressure to reveal where it had buried the bodies of the “Disappeared” – people murdered and secretly buried over a number of years. The IRA gave him details of some of the burial spots which he then passed onto the authorities.
In 2006 Fr Reid worked with Basque separatist group, Eta, in a bid to get it to call a permanent end to its bloody campaign of terrorism. It was blamed for killing more than 800 people in its campaign for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and south-west France.