Sarah Conlon, who campaigned for decades against the wrongful conviction of her son and husband over the Guildford bombing, has died at the age of 82 of cancer.
The west Belfast woman helped secure an apology from then Prime Minister in 2005 over the miscarriage of justice.
Her son Gerry, who spent 15 years in prison, said his mother was remarkable as she bore no bitterness about what happened.
The Guildford Four — Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong — were jailed for life in 1975 for an IRA bombing campaign which killed five people and injured 65.
The Maguire Seven — members and friends of the Maguire family, including Guiseppe Conlon — were convicted of possessing nitro-glycerine allegedly passed to the IRA to make bombs.
Guiseppe later died in prison.
Three years ago, Tony Blair delivered a public apology to the Conlon and Maguire families, saying they deserved to be completely and publicly exonerated.
Speaking about his mother Gerry Conlon said: “She was remarkable in the fact that she didn’t bear any ill-will towards the people who first arrested us and then tortured us and framed us.
“And while I was in prison, every letter ended the same: “Pray for the ones who told lies against you and pray for the judge who sentenced you. It’s them who needs help as well as yourself.”
SDLP leader and Foyle MP Mark Durkan said Mrs Conlon had fought for years with dignity, decency and determination: “She was a true heroine of our age. Of no-one can the words ‘patience of a saint’ be truer and she was not just distinguished by her patience.
“This small lady of frail frame had huge reserves of faith, fortitude and remarkable forgiveness.
“What Sarah, Guiseppe and Gerry Conlon and family had to endure physically, psychologically and personally would have given Sarah more cause to hate than most, but her story is an inspiration of faith, hope and love.”
Mr Durkan added: “When Sarah and Gerry asked me to secure an apology from Tony Blair it was clear that she needed it for Gerry, and Gerry needed it for her. But they both wanted it for Guiseppe.
“When I was with Sarah in her home on the day of the Prime Minister’s apology her sense of relief was clear.
“She told me that she no longer had to worry about dying and what it might mean. In her dignity, determination and decency she was a shining example to us all.
“She had to cope with crosses, challenges and cruelties that no one should have had to bear yet she brought herself and her family through it all with character and spirit. We join all of Sarah’s family in mourning the passing of such a special mother and a woman who showed such remarkable care and courage.”
SDLP Lower Falls representative Margaret Walsh, a long-time family friend, added her tribute.
“Sarah Conlon was a woman of great care, courage and conviction. Her battle was a triumph of hope and truth over evil and lies.
“The Conlon family were stripped of their dignity by the events of over 30 years ago but the tireless work of Sarah ensured that the truth came through.”