Tributes to Seamus Mallon - a 'peacemaker, mentor and hero'

Tributes have been paid at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon who had been member of its legacy council.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 7:13 pm
Seamus Mallon

Lord Mayor Mealla Campbell, who is an SDLP party colleague, led the tributes at tonight's meeting.

She said: "John Reid once said 'Seamus Mallon is the only man I know who makes Good Morning sound like a threat'.

"That very much captured the essense of the Mallon - a giant of our political landscape for over 30 years. He was known as a fierce and determined negotiator, steadfast in his principles

"He has been referred to as spikey, abrasive and straight talking but underpinning that gruff exterior and gravelly voice was a man of great courage, integrity and determination who was relentless in his efforts to create a shared space.

"He was a peacemaker, denouncing violence from all sides and aspiring for future framed in respect, tolerance, mutual understanding and reconciliation. He knew the cost of war and the value of peace.

SDLP colleague Cllr Thomas O'Hanlon said: "Seamus Mallon was a friend, a mentor and to those in our group, a hero.

"He was a statesman but was a proud Armagh man

"If you saw the crowds at the family home and the people who turned out today for the funeral. Yes we had the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tanaiste Simon Coveney and the First and Deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster who walked and took their seats together but also the ordinary Joe Blocks were there in their droves to pay tribute to him.

"He was decent to the core, he was brutal and honest. He was straight talking and compassionate. He despised violence and called it out for being wrong. He was the perfect peacemaker."

DUP Cllr Gareth Wilson said: "We know what it is like to like to lose a mainstay of the party, We lost Dr Paisley. Seamus, served as Deputy First Minister and as an MP, but many people accessed his services.

"He set his stall out as a door open to all," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mallon family."

Jim Speers said: "I had the privilege of knowing him probably longer than most others here. I knew him before he came to council and where I live to where he lives there are only two houses between us. I saw him quite regularly in recent years. In the past we had stern disagreements and forthright but I must admire him he was very personable but once the argument was over, that was the end of it.

"I always found him personable. The leadership he gave to the community was well articulated today at the service of thanksgiving for his life. I want to extend my sympathy to his daughter, her husband and his three sisters and family circle."

Cllr Eoin Tennyson said: "On behalf of Alliance I would like to extend my sympathy. I was not around at the height of Seamus Mallon's career but I always admired him."

Sinn Fein Cllr Darren McNally also extended sympathy to the family and colleagues in the SDLP

"He was MP for my own area for quite a while and I know a lot of people thought very highly of him."

Cllr Joe Nelson said: "I thank all the parties who have tonight sympathised with the loss of a man of political integrity, Seamus Mallon practised what he preached.

"It was well known in the party if Seamus Mallon approved something it was going to happen. He was one of our founding fathers and shaped our thinking to the present day.

Independent Unionist Cllr Paul Berry said: "I would like to be associated with these remarks of sympathy. The loss of Seamus Mallon has been a big loss to his family but also the SDLP.

"Seamus never let titles go to his head,. If you had words with Seamus, five minutes later it was gone.

"One thing. from the unionist community, Seamus Mallon was there to help everybody, no matter where they were from.

"He will be a great loss to his family and his party but also a great loss to the country as he was a level headed individual."