One of the greatest backroom peacemakers in Northern Ireland has died.

Father Gerry Reynolds, a Redemptorist priest who worked for peace and reconciliation, was 80. He was based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast for more than 30 years.

The monastery was once described by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams as “the cradle of the peace process.”

With his friend and fellow priest Father Alex Reid, Reynolds was deeply committed to brokering peace. Reid acted as a go-between for the IRA and politicians and was one of the witnesses who confirmed the decommissioning of IRA weapons. He died two years ago.

Reynolds was central to efforts to develop a peace process years before it eventually took root.

He was born in Limerick and worked in ministries in the Republic of Ireland until 1983, when he moved to Clonard monastery in Belfast.

In an interview in 2009, he said that when he came to the city there was one challenge. “It was, how do you stop the killing?” he said.

Reynolds, a committed ecumenist, reached out to other churches. His friend Adams said he was instrumental in helping to facilitate discussions between members of the Protestant churches and Irish Republicans.

Reynolds loved poetry, particularly Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

He died on at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday after a short illness.