The death has taken place in Dublin of the prominent champion of harmony among Christians, Father Michael Hurley.

A co-founder of the Irish School of Ecumenics, he was 87 years old.

Three years ago, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin apologised to the Jesuit priest for the negative attitude of his predecessor, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, in the lead-up to the school's establishment in Dublin in 1970.

Fr Hurley spoke of his 'great sense of relief, joy and gratitude' as he listened to what he called the 'magnanimous apology'.

In 1981, during the inter-communal violence that accompanied the republican hunger strikes, Fr Hurley conceived the idea of an ecumenical community of Catholics and Protestants living together in Northern Ireland.

In 1983 he co-founded the Columbanus Community of Reconciliation in the Antrim Road in north Belfast. He lived and worked there for ten years.

He has written extensively on the subject of ecumenism.

A native of Ardmore in Co Waterford, he was educated in University College Dublin and Egenhoven-Louvain, before completing his doctorate in theology in the Gregorian University in Rome.

He received an honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast in 1993, and from Trinity College Dublin in 1995.

In recent years he lived with the Jesuit community in Milltown Park in south Dublin.