Seamus said the necessary thing, rather than the convenient thing
I wish to add mine to the many, deeply deserved, tributes to the life of service to peaceful constitutional politics of Seamus Mallon.
A man with a deep and well understood sense of his own Irish nationalist identity, he made more effort than any other nationalist, living or dead, to understand the unionist identity of his neighbours, and to address their worries.
He never stayed within his political comfort zone.
He said the necessary thing, rather than the convenient thing.
As his autobiography, “A Shared Home Place” shows, every day of his public life, he made the effort to reach out across the sectarian divide.
For example, as a public representative, he attended the funeral of every unionist victim of (so called “republican”) violence in Armagh.
He did so because he believed this was his duty as a representative of all the people in his electorate, notwithstanding the personal toll this must have imposed on him.
Seamus Mallon was a truly great man.
Hopefully though, he will NOT prove to be unique.
Ireland, and Northern Ireland, never in recent history, has greater need of more Seamus Mallons.