Northern Ireland

Funeral takes place of Seamus Mallon's wife Gertrude

The funeral has taken place of the wife of former SDLP Deputy Leader Seamus Mallon in Mullaghbrack, Co Armagh this morning.

Gertrude Mallon (nee Cush), who passed away on Monday, had been ill for many years and suffered from dementia.

Mr Mallon cared for his wife at their home in Markethill Co Armagh after quitting frontline politics in 2005.

Among the mourners paying tribute today was former taoiseach Brian Cowen and former SDLP leader John Hume.

After news of her death broke this week, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described Mrs Mallon as as a "life-long SDLP member who stood against violence".

"Gertrude will long be remembered as a pillar of strength and a source of hope for SDLP members in Armagh during the darkest days of conflict, none more so than her devoted and beloved husband Seamus," he said.

Mr Eastwood said that Mrs Mallon "had a lot to bear" given "Seamus’s towering political stature and fierce opposition to violence in south Armagh".

Former SDLP leader John Hume described Mrs Mallon as the "beating heart of the SDLP in south Armagh".

"A tower of support to Seamus, her contribution to peace, politics and people across this island is immeasurable," he said.

“It’s often those closest to politicians who are forced to endure the most in difficult times. Gertrude’s caring nature from her background in nursing stood her in good stead as she looked after not only her own family but all those who needed support as the horrors of that time unfolded."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also offered his condolences.

"I visited Gertrude and Seamus in their home last year in Markethill and saw first-hand the love and devotion they had for each other," he said.

"Gertrude had been ill for some time and, along with her carers, Seamus demonstrated the commitment towards her in his personal life that was a central tenet of his public, political life."