Death of Senator Ted Kennedy

There has been a wave of praise by politicians in Ireland and Britain following the death of US Senator Edward Kennedy for his efforts in the Irish peace process and his decades of political service.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that America had lost a great and respected statesman and Ireland, a long-standing and true friend.

“Ted hailed from a most famous Irish-American family, and through his own endeavours and achievement, he has added further lustre to the reputation of a great family. . . . In good days and bad, Ted Kennedy worked valiantly for the cause of peace on this island,” said Mr Cowen.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Mr Kennedy had helped negotiate a lasting peace.

“I saw his focus and determination first hand in Northern Ireland where his passionate commitment was matched with a practical understanding of what needed to be done to bring about peace and to sustain it,” said Mr Blair.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, whose initial visa to the US Mr Kennedy helped secure in 1994, said the late Senator had “served the American people with courage and commitment for nearly 50 years”

“His service to Ireland through his role in the Peace Process was exceptional and contributed significantly to its progress.

“Senator Kennedy also carried out sterling work with, and on behalf of, the undocumented Irish in the United States and brought forward proposals to see this issue, that affects so many, resolved.”

The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson said that in the early years, Mr Kennedy’s “interventions” in the peace process were “deeply unhelpful”.

But he said: “I think Ted Kennedy came to understand that the situation in Northern Ireland was much more complex than the simple notions that had been put into his head by republican propaganda.”

Former Labour foreign secretary Lord Owen said Mr Kennedy had initially been regarded by the British as an “apologist for the IRA” but had changed his position and worked tirelessly “behind the scenes” to help broker peace.

“He saw, from our point of view, the necessity of dealing with this problem and he put his weight behind it,” Lord Owen said.

“His influence on the peace process and his influence on successive US presidents, in particular on President Clinton, was absolutely crucial.”

The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, said that Mr Kennedy would be remembered by the people in Ireland as a “hugely important friend to the country during very difficult times.”

“His death will be greeted with a great sense of sadness here because of his long standing affection for this country, not just with the peace process, but on many other issues, including emigration,” said Mrs McAleese.

“His outstanding and remarkable personal contribution was made, despite the sacrifice and sorrow that was part of the overall contribution of the entire Kennedy family,” she added.

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