Hundreds of people attended the funeral today in Raphoe of Paddy Harte, the former Fine Gael public representative, who passed away earlier this week.

Aged 86, he was a highly respected figure and the large and representative attendance at the funeral at St. Eunan's Church, Raphoe, reflected the high esteem in which he was held.

In her address to the congregation, on behalf of the family, Paddy Harte's eldest daughter, Mary, spoke of how her father "always saw the good in people" and "spoke without fear no favour."

She spoke of his days as a butcher, before he went into public life, and how his family was so important to him.

A TD for 37 years, he met many world leaders, and political figures and shook hands with all three Kennedy brothers.

He loved grassroots politics and championed many political causes.

Significantly, he took the steps to recognise so many Irish people who had served in World War One and who had been previously been "airbrushed from history."

Thanks to this vision, the thousands of Irish people who lost their lives in the Great War can now be remembered with honour and dignity, and their descendents can speak openly of them, unlike many of their parents' generation.

In November 1998, Paddy Harte''s vision was realised when a Peace Park was opened in Flanders in Belgium in memory of the Fallen Irish. Queen Elizabeth II, President Mary McAleese, and King Albert of Belgium were present for the ceremony.

Harte played a significant role in bridge building with many of the unionist community.

Those at the Mass also heard of his "Christian values" with Fr. Kieran Harkin speaking of Paddy Harte's "long eventful life" and how he was a servant to peace and reconciliation all his life.

Derek Smith, a friend of Paddy Harte, recalled how the latter's work had led to the publicaiton of the County Donegal Book of Honour, recalling the lives of the fallen in World War One.

Mr. Smith said that Donegal had led, and the rest of Ireland had followed. Every casualty of the 32 counties in World War One has now been recorded. "Paddy Harte was the catalyst of it all," he said.

The burial took place immediately afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

The tricolour had been draped over his coffin earlier as the funeral made its way from his family home nearby to St. Eunan's.

As well as friends and family, there were numerous politicians, government and state representatives, and former public representatives in attendance, including: Captain Eoin Rochford, Aide de Camp, to President Michael D. Higgins, and Comdt. Caroline Burke, Aide de Camp to An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, Government Chief Whip and Donegal TD, Joe McHugh, former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, Charlie McConalogue TD, Sen. Padraig McLaughlin.

The coffin of Paddy Harte is carried by family members from St. Eunan's Church in Raphoe to the adjoining cemetery.

Also in attendance were Iza Barr and Wesley Barr, the wife and brother respectively of the late unionist politician Glen Barr, who worked closely with Paddy Harte to advance the Peace Park project.

Former SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, was among those from the North who attended the funeral as well.

Sincere sympathy is expressed to his family.

See next week's Donegal Post for full coverage

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