Saint Patrick’s Church in Downpatrick was overflowing with mourners today as they turned out to say their last goodbyes to SDLP stalwart and the party’s longest serving MP, gentleman Eddie McGrady.
SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell said the huge numbers at the funeral, an estimated 1,200, was a reflection of the giant of a man that Eddie McGrady was, and just how respected he was.
Dr. McDonnell said: “Eddie was a towering figure in Irish politics, a man who set out to work for the people and make a difference, which is what he did every day of his life. Ireland has lost a great man, a man of inspiration and considerable courage, who will be missed by so many people throughout the nation. On a personal note, I have said goodbye to a good friend who I will miss dearly.”
Among the huge crowds who braved the cold to pay their respects to the McGrady family and wider circle was Trevor Rainey, representing the Stormont Assembly; and Fine Gael TD for Louth, Fergus O’Dowd, representing the Irish Government.
Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers; Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness; James Galvin representing the Office of the Irish President; Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster; Stephen Pound from MP Ivan Lewis’s office; and PSNI Chief Inspector Deirdre Bones, along with colleagues, also attended.
Each of the SDLP’s MP’s, Margaret Ritchie, a close friend of Mr McGrady, and Mark Durkan, with the party’s 14 MLA’s as well as a number of councillors, including Mayor of Derry, SDLP councillor Martin Reilly; and SDLP General Secretary Gerry Cosgrove attended. Former SDLP stalwarts, Nobel Laureate John Hume; Seamus Mallon, Brid Rogers and former MLA for South Down, PJ Bradley were also at the funeral paying their final respects.
MP for North Down, Lady Sylvia Hermon and UUP leader Mike Nesbitt were also among the mourners at St. Patrick’s Church.
After the mass said by his nephew, The Very Rev. Fearghal McGrady, the late Eddie McGrady was laid to rest in his parish at Saul.
Eddie was married to wife Patricia for more than 40 years, but she sadly passed away in 2003. He is survived by their three children Jerome, Paula and Conaill, sister Marie and brother Malachy.