Former president of Ireland, Dr Patrick Hillery, died today. He passed away in Dublin this morning following a short illness. He was 84-years-of age.
Hillery served two terms as president from 1976 until 1990. He was in good health until a recent short illness, and died a month before his 85th birthday.
Tributes have been flooding in from around the country. The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has expressed his deepest sympathy to Dr. Hillery's family.
Speaking on national radio, President McAleese said his contributions to the education system laid the ground work for Ireland's economic success.
While Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has said Dr Hillery played a crucial role in ensuring the stability of the state after the 70's arms crisis in Northern Ireland.
Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny TD, also paid tribute to former president.
Mr Kenny said: "It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Paddy Hillery today. Former President Hillery was a great Statesman, an accomplished politician and a true patriot.
"His role in the introduction of free education, equal pay for women and his contribution to the creation of the Celtic Tiger are significant milestones in a proud and impressive record which includes his period as Ireland's first European Commissioner and two terms as President of Ireland.
"Paddy Hillery embodied all that was best about Irish public life over his long political career. He was a warm and engaging personality and of all things in life he loved his wife and his native Clare most.
"On a personal level I had formed a deep relationship with Paddy through the Oireachtas Golf Society where he was a loyal and consistent participant. We shall miss him greatly.
"I send my deepest sympathies to Paddy's wife Maeve and his family on this sad day."