Tributes Flow For The Late South Down MP Eddie McGrady
LATE on Monday afternoon 11 November, Eddie McGrady, a former South Down MP and MLA passed away. He was 78. He had been ill for the past couple of years but had battled on through his illness making occasional public appearances when he could.
Eddie McGrady was born in Downpatrick’s Market Street in a family of eleven children. His father ran a clothes shop in the town. He was a pupil of St Patrick’s Grammar School and later studied at belfast Technical College and qualified as a chartered accountant to later work in the family accountancy practice.
His political career began as an independent nationalist councillor but he joined the National Democrats and in 1970 was a founder member of the SDLP. He served as party chairman from 1971 to 1973 and later from 2007 to 2009, but also sat in three NI assemblies in 1977, 1975, and 1982. Eddie served as Head of the Department of Executive Planning and Coordination from January to May 1974.
His political determination was a hallmark and he stood unsuccessfully against Ulster Unionist Enoch Powell in 1979, 1983 and 1986, and eventually won the Westminster by-election in 1987 for South Down.
After his retirement in 2010, Eddie continued to keep an interest in the Lecale Branch of the SDLP.
Eddie was married to Patricia for more than 40 years. Sadly, she passed away after illness in 2003. Eddie and his wife are survived by their three children – Paula, Jerry and Conaill.
He passed away in the Downe Hospital, a new hospital in Downpatrick that he was proud to have campaigned for along with the local community.
Ritchie Deeply Saddened By Passing Of Close Friend And Colleague Eddie McGrady
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie MP said: “I am deeply saddened by todays passing of my close friend and colleague Eddie McGrady. Eddie was not only my mentor and colleague but a very dear friend. Eddie was an inspiration to a generation of politicians and a true advocate for the community of South Down.
“During his political career from the time he entered political life as a councillor on Downpatrick Urban Council to his years as MP for south down, Eddie built up a great infrastructure for the people of South Down and always put South Down first.
“Eddie was a great campaigner and he gave his and future generations the confidence that politics and campaigning can bring about change locally and regionally through his role in the peace process.
“Eddie will be sadly missed and on behalf of the community of South Down I extend my sympathy to his daughter Paula, sons Jerome and Conaill , his sister Marie, his brother Malachy and wider family circle.
SDLP Leader McDonnell Pays Tribute To Former MP and MLA
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell MP has paid a heartfelt tribute to one of the founding pillars of the party, Eddie McGrady.
Mr McDonnell said: ” With the death of this veteran politician, Ireland had lost a person of faith and integrity.
Mr. McDonnell added: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Eddie McGrady – a great patriot and a great democrat whose contribution to this community at many levels has been incalculable.
“Today, the SDLP has lost one of its founding pillars. County Down has lost a great champion and Ireland has lost a person of faith and integrity who enhanced public life in a political career that lasted almost half a century.
“As a founding member of the SDLP, Eddie helped to shape not only our party, but history, as he along with John Hume, Seamus Mallon and others helped to define the politics of an era and build the peace of our lifetime.
“I was delighted to see Eddie attend the recent office opening of Seán Rogers MLA in Newcastle where, despite ill health, Eddie was determined to come and show support and give encouragement, not only to Seán, but to the councillors and potential candidates. I know that they all valued Eddie’s counsel that day, as we all have over the course of his career.”
Eddie McGrady, received a number of tributes from SDLP members, including Dr. McDonnell at the party’s 42nd annual party conference in Armagh at the weekend. The party leader told members he had just visited Mr McGrady and spent some time with him and that it was only the second SDLP conference Mr. McGrady had missed. Dr. McDonnell spent several minutes of his speech devoted to paying tribute to the steadfast work of Eddie McGrady, and bringing a message from his hospital bed…’Just get out there and finish the job.’
He was one of Northern Ireland’s longest serving MPs, having been elected to Westminster in 1987 and serving until 2010.
He had often said of his political career that it had been ‘a great honour and privilege’ to serve at various stages as a councillor, assembly member and MP.
When he announced he was standing down in 2010, Eddie McGrady said: ‘I know if SDLP leaders had not been there to challenge the British Government, to act in the interests of the Irish people, nationalists and unionists, and to demand justice and equality for all, we would not have peace and no prospect of a better future.’ ”
John Hume Pays Tribute To Eddie McGrady
Nobel Laureate former SDLP leader John Hume has paid tribute to Eddie McGrady a fellow founding member of the SDLP.
Mr Hume said: “I am extremely sad to learn of the death of my dear friend Eddie McGrady. Eddie was a man of deep faith incredible fortitude and considerable courage. He brought a sharp political instinct to all his work displaying both talent and tenacity throughout a distinguished career stretching 50 years in public service.
“He will be rightfully remembered for his 1987 election victory over Enoch Powell but we should not forget his unswerving devotion to peace and his substantial contribution towards the new beginning to policing.
“Eddie served the constituency of South Down which he loved with distinction but above all Eddie was a family man happiest at his home in Saul in Downpatrick.
“I wish to send my deepest condolences to his daughter Paula, sons Jerome and Conaill his sister Maire, brother Malachy and wider family circle.”
Council Chair Maria McCarthy Pays Her Respects
Councillor Maria McCarthy, Chair of Down District Council, said: “Eddie McGrady was the epitome of a true public servant. Hard working, honest, dedicated. A man of great faith and character.
“Eddie was a true democrat and instrumental in the Good Friday Agreement. A political giant. A titan of both local and regional politics.”
Addressing the Down District Council meeting on Monday evening, she added: “He will be a great loss to his family, the nation and his community. Eddie joined the Downpatrick Urban Council in 1964 which was replaced by Down District Council in 1073, and he was a councillor from 1973 to 1989 and was council chairman from 1974-75.”
Councillor Eamonn O’Neill Pays His Respects
Councillor Eamonn O’Neill said: “Eddie was a true democrat and instrumental in the Good Friday Agreement. A political giant. A titan of both local and regional politics.
On a very personal level he was good friend and confident. He was much loved and will be sorely missed.”learnt of the death of our close friend and colleague Eddie McGrady.
“Our immediate reaction is to pass on our feelings of sadness and sympathy to his family. To his daughter Paula, sons Conaill and Jerome and their children and also to his sister and brothers and his wide extended family.
“We all worked with Eddie for many years and recognise the outstanding contribution he made to life and politics both on a national scale, with his critical contribution in building peace and political movement and as a very successful hard working constituency MP.
“Eddie created a great reputation for fairness, hard work and service to his constituents from all sides and political outlooks in South Down.
“He will also be remembered for his work as a local councillor and as leader of the SDLP locally for many years. His introduction of a power sharing policy in Down District Council which the SDLP used in many other councils in many ways set the tone and basis of his political approach, he has left a deep impression on all those who knew him he will be greatly missed.”
Councillor Carmel O’Boyle Says Eddie McGrady Will Leave Lasting Legacy
Councillor O’Boyle said: “Eddie’s courage, intelligence dedication and perseverance throughout the SDLP’s long campaign for peace and stability in our county and our country will be his lasting legacy.”
Shannon Says He Worked Well WIth Eddie McGrady
Jim Shannon MP for Strangford has expressed his sympathy to the family of the late Eddie McGrady.
He said” I had known Eddie for many years. It is over 20 years ago that we worked closely together through the Tri-Fisheries Group between Ards, Down and Mourne Councils to help our County Down fishing industries.
“I worked on behalf of Portavogie and Eddie was working for Ardglass and Kilkeel, and although we may not have agreed with the others politics, we always had a great working relationship to achieve for the fishermen.
“In all my dealings with Cllr McGrady the fact that he was a gentleman always shone through and it was with real sadness that I learned of his passing. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones at this time of great sadness.
“He was a good man who worked hard for his constituents and he will be greatly missed.”
SDLP MLA’s Pay Tribute
South Down SDLP MLA’s Seán Rogers and Karen McKevitt have also paid their respects to former colleague Eddie McGrady
Mr Rogers said: “South Down is in mourning following the death of Eddie McGrady who was a stalwart of the SDLP. Eddie was a highly regarded and accomplished politician who gave everything to the people of South Down.
“Over his years in public life Eddie provided assistance, representation and genuine advice to thousands of constituents irrespective of their political opinion or religious background. South Down and the whole of the North will remain indebted to Eddie and what he did for the peace process. My thoughts and prayers are with his children – Paula, Jerome and Conaill, as well as his wider family circle. “
South Down MLA Karen McKevitt said that Eddie McGrady’s has left a legacy in South Down and beyond and added: ” Eddie McGrady was a huge source of support to me. Eddie was always willing to share his expertise and provide welcome guidance on a range of issues.
“I know I was not alone in benefiting from Eddie’s encouragement; a whole generation of SDLP politicians in south Down and beyond in the party have learned from Eddie and sought his counsel down the years.
“Eddie’s passing is a huge loss to his family and his wider SDLP family particularly his colleagues here in south Down.”
Councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe Pays Respects
Sinn Féin Councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe said that Eddie McGrady had become a very well known name and he was synonymous with politics in South Down. He said: “I have a great respect for Eddie as he worked his way up in politics from the bottom and that has to be admired. On behalf of Sinn Féin I would like to offer our condolences to the McGrady family.”
Alliance Pays Tribute To Former MP for South Down
Alliance Down District Councillor Patrick Clarke paid his tribute on learning of the sad passing of the former MP for South Down Eddie McGrady. Councillor Clarke said there was a huge political sadness across the political spectrum.
Councillor Clarke added: “I was indeed very saddened to learn of the sad passing of the late Eddie McGrady the former MP for South Down who passed away peacefully after a long illness.”
“During the darkest of days of the troubles Eddie McGrady fought to bring an end to violence in the North and was a fierce critic of those who used violence and murder as a means to delivering their political objectives.
“Eddie McGrady as a Councillor, MLA and then in his historic win in 1987 as MP for South Down irrespective of your political, religious or other opinion represented and fought for the rights of everyone.
“His contribution to the peace process and to the people of South Down is immense and there can be no question that he devoted most of his life to politics and to making a difference to people’s lives as a public elected representative.
“I would like to pay personal tribute to the late Eddie McGrady’s enormous contribution to the people of South Down whom he represented at all levels in Down, Stormont and Westminster.”
UKIP Representative Alan Lewis Adds His Condolences
Down District UKIP representative Alan Lewis said: ” I’m sorry to hear Mr McGrady has passed away. His record as a long serving politician is something his family can take pride in, I send my sympathies to the family circle.”