In The News

Hundreds attend the funeral of Eddie McGrady

Hundreds attend the funeral of Eddie McGrady

HUNDREDS of mourners attended the Funeral of former South Down M.P. Eddie McGrady.

Requiem Mass was held in St. Patrick’s Church, Downpatrick, with burial following in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Saul.

Mr. McGrady, who was 78, had been a founding member of the S.D.L.P. and was the party’s first chairman. Many leading figures from the party were among the mourners, including John Hume, Seamus Mallon and Joe Hendron. They were joined by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness along with many other politicians.

A nephew of the former politician, Fr. Fergal McGrady, was the main celebrant at the Mass. He told mourners his uncle had been: “A Christian, a democrat and a patriotic Irishman”. He continued: “He was, in the eyes of fair-minded observers, critics and supporters alike, a gentleman of honour.”

Mr. McGrady had been born in Downpatrick and remained close to the local community throughout his life — always willing to take up the fight on issues ranging from the need to keep the Downe Hospital open to campaigning for the closure of the Sellafield nuclear plant across the Irish Sea in Cumbria.

His journey to becoming the area’s M.P. was to prove a less than easy one and was to take four attempts. The former chartered accountant was eventually elected in 1987 after he defeated the veteran politician Enoch Powell, who had held the seat for the Ulster Unionists since 1974.

The respect in which he was held in his constituency was reflected in the fact that he won the support of many unionist voters over the years. He retired as M.P. in 2010.

Tributes were paid from across Ireland and from across the political spectrum.

Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, said Mr. McGrady’s “personal dignity and measured words embodied the values of decency, mutual respect and the primacy of democratic politics”.

S.D.L.P. leader Alasdair McDonnell said Mr. Grady’s politics had been “the politics of fair play, of social justice, reconciliation and general decency”.

Dr. McDonnell added: “As a founding member of the S.D.L.P., Eddie helped shape not only our party, but history”.

First Minister Peter Robinson said that while Mr. McGrady had been from a “different political tradition, his warmth and personality won him many friends and a great deal of respect from within the unionist community”.

Mr. McGrady passed away in the Downe Hospital. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his children Paula, Jerome and Conaill.

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