The President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who died early this morning.
Mr McGuinness, a former IRA leader in Derry, emerged as a key Sinn Féin political figure in the North and played a significant role in the peace process and forging the Good Friday Agreement.
“The world of politics and the people across this island will miss the leadership he gave, shown most clearly during the difficult times of the peace process, and his commitment to the values of genuine democracy that he demonstrated in the development of the institutions in Northern Ireland,” the President said.
He added, “As President of Ireland, I wish to pay tribute to his immense contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland – a contribution which has rightly been recognised across all shades of opinion.
“Our paths have crossed many times in recent years at official events, including most recently at the GPO for the 1916 commemorations, as well as in our celebrations of ‘the beautiful game’, at Glentoran and in France at the European Championships.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny described Mr McGuinness as “one of the chief architects of the Good Friday Agreement and he worked resolutely in the years that followed it in pursuit of its full implementation. “
Mr Kenny said Mr McGuinness “strove to make Northern Ireland a better place for everyone, regardless of background or tradition”.
Mr McGuinness stood down as Deputy First Miniser in January in protest at the DUP’s handling of the ‘cash for ash’ energy scandal, triggering a snap election. Ten days later, he announced his retirement from politics.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said, “Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness. He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country.”