Death of former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds.

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil T.D. and Party Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith, T.D. has extended his deepest sympathy to Kathleen Reynolds and her family on the death of her husband, Albert, the former Taoiseach.

Deputy Smith stated that Albert Reynolds made an outstanding contribution to this country in various political roles and particularly as Taoiseach when he showed outstanding courage, leadership and vision in dealing with the very difficult issues in relation to Northern Ireland and advancing so well the Peace Process. Today our country benefits so much from that work.

Albert Reynolds as Minister for Post and Telegraphs in the 1980’s started major investment and a complete overhaul and modernisation of our telecommunications system. At that particular time the lack of a proper phone network was a real hindrance to economic and social progress and was a particular difficulty in rural Ireland.

As Minister for Industry and Commerce and Minister for Finance Albert Reynolds introduced many innovative measures to grow employment opportunities and also to reduce the tax burden on workers.

Albert Reynolds on his election as Fianna Fáil Leader clearly outlined that ending the conflict in Northern Ireland, growing the economy and jobs and creating a more open society were his is key objectives. In each of those areas he made outstanding progress in a short time as Taoiseach.

Our country has benefitted very considerably from his successful negotiation of the 8 Billion Punt Structural Funds at the Union European Summit meeting in Edinburgh in 1992. Today that 8 Billion Punt would be equivalent to 20 Billion Euro and was a massive injection into the Irish economy. That funding which was a transfer of financial resources from the European Union to our economy commenced the major investment in our infrastructure both in physical infrastructure such as roads, water and in human resources in the whole area of educational facilities and training of people with different standards of education.

The Downing Street Declaration of December 1993, which heralded a completely new set of relationships between Ireland and Britain and the political landscape on this island, the IRA cease fire of August 1994 and subsequently the loyalist cease fire of October were key milestones in ending the mayhem, murder and desperate loss of life on this island eventually leading to The Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

As we all know the Downing Street Declaration and The Good Friday Agreement have been pivotal in establishing new political structures on this island and giving us an island at peace.

For me personally Albert Reynolds was a good friend, always accessible, approachable, friendly and helpful to us in Cavan/Monaghan on so many occasions.

Albert Reynolds did outstanding work for this country of which we are all beneficiaries today.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis