Queen's Policy Engagement

Fr Gerry Reynolds: faith and the peacemaker

A new book about the Limerick-born priest highlights his unsung role in the Northern Ireland peace process says Dr Gladys Ganiel.

Fr Gerry Reynolds: faith and the peacemaker

My new biography, Unity Pilgrim: The Life of Fr Gerry Reynolds CSsR, tells the story of Fr Gerry Reynolds, a Redemptorist priest who served more than three decades in Belfast’s Clonard Monastery. His role in peacemaking is not as well-known as that of his Redemptorist colleague, Fr Alec Reid, who was the pivotal broker in the secret Hume-Adams talks, which are considered to be the first steps in bringing the IRA into the peace process.

Reynolds assisted Reid behind the scenes and also developed a public ecumenical (Christian unity) ministry. This was important at a time when the Rev Ian Paisley was using a ferocious blend of religion and politics to foster division.

“The only organisation that can do anything is the Church”

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams convinced Reid to act as a secret broker by telling him that “the only organisation that can do anything is the Church – the Church is the only organisation that has the status, the credibility, the lines of communication.” Adams had grasped that Reid’s position as a Redemptorist gave him a trustworthiness that opened doors to people with power. Reid and Reynolds also had built up credibility through their patient ministries among republican prisoners.

To continue reading, please click here. 

Article originally appeared on RTE’s Brainstorm. 


The featured image of Clonard Monastery has been used courtesy a Creative Commons license. 

Dr Gladys Ganiel
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Dr Gladys Ganiel is a Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work and a Research Fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. Gladys works across the disciplines of sociology, politics, anthropology and religious studies. She specialises in religion, conflict transformation and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and South Africa; the emerging church movement; evangelicalism; and religious change on the island of Ireland.

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