Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds has died aged 81.
Albert Reynolds was born in Rooskey, Co. Roscommon in 1932. He went to Summerhill College in Sligo and worked for a number of years as a CIÉ clerk before his business running dance halls took off in the 1960s. He later opened a successful pet food factory and invested in other businesses, including the Longford News newspaper.
He was elected to the Dáil in 1977 as a Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath. He had several ministries before becoming Taoiseach and party leader in 1992 after Charles Haughey resigned. He was Taoiseach during the X Case and the Beef Tribunal. The Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrat coalition collapsed when Reynolds accused PD leader Desmond O’Malley of providing dishonest evidence at the tribunal and a general election was held in November 1992. This time Fianna Fáil entered into coalition with Labour and Reynolds returned as Taoiseach.
In 1993 he negotiated the joint Downing Street Declaration with British prime minister John Major, which helped bring about an IRA ceasefire the following year. Reynolds’s relations with the Labour Party deteriorated in 1994 when it emerged that Attorney-General Harry Whelehan had mishandled a RUC request to extradite paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth to Northern Ireland. Labour withdrew from government and Reynolds resigned as Taoiseach and party leader in November 1994. He remained a TD until he retired in 2002.
Special programmes dedicated to Albert Reynolds will take place on RTÉ One and RTÉ News Now.