Tributes have been paid to the former SDLP leader John Hume by various political leaders, past and present.
Mr Hume, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and one of the principal architects of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, died in the early hours of this morning at the age of 83.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he was the philosopher, architect, and ultimate symbol of peace and never once faltered in his insistence that dialogue was the only way forward.
He said: "John was a champion of peace and his passing will be mourned in all communities in Ireland and beyond our seas by people everywhere who value democracy, freedom and human rights.
"He never tired in his efforts to persuade others to come round the table, never failed in his belief that a peaceful solution could be found to the problems of this island. And for that we and future generations can be extremely grateful. "
The Taoiseach Micheál Martin described Mr Hume as "a great hero and a true peacemaker" who was "a passionate advocate for a generous, outward-looking and all-encompassing concept of nationalism and republicanism".
It is impossible to properly express the scale and significance of John Hume’s life. He was one of the towering figures of Irish public life of the last century. His vision and tenacity saved this country. We owe him and his wife Pat so much. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) August 3, 2020
President Michael D Higgins said that Mr Hume "through his words, his astute diplomacy and willingness to listen to what was often difficult to accept...transformed and remodelled politics in Ireland" through his "personal bravery and leadership.
Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, described Mr Hume as a political titan who refused to believe the future had to be the same as the past.
He also said it was good fortune that he was born on the island of Ireland.
Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Hume took decisions that were not popular in his own ranks in the pursuit of peace.
Main image: John Hume arrives for the final day of the peace talks in Castle Buildings, Belfast in 1998. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie