Former US president Bill Clinton has paid tribute to former deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon after his death aged 83.
President Clinton said he and QUB Chancellor Hillary Rodham Clinton are "saddened" following the death of the man the couple described as "profoundly good", who was a hero of the peace process in Northern Ireland.
"Seamus never wavered from his vision for a shared future where neighbors of all faiths could live in dignity—or from the belief he shared with John Hume and the entire SDLP that nonviolence was the only way to reach that goal," said President Clinton.
The former SDLP deputy leader died at home on Friday in the care of his family following a period of illness.
His remains will repose at his late home until removal on Monday for Requiem Mass at midday in St James Church in Mullaghbrack.
He will be buried afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.
President Clinton said he will always be grateful for the opportunity to have known and worked with the politician, who was one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement.
He described Mr Mallon as someone who was respected by all parties for his intelligence, integrity, candor and convictions.
"As the inaugural Deputy First Minister, he worked with David Trimble to ensure that the peace he had spent 30 years struggling to build would not crumble under the weight of politics or the past.
"A teacher in practice and in heart, the lessons of his life and power of his example are as important today as ever," said President Clinton.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his family and all the people whose lives he touched."
Mr Mallon served as the deputy leader of the SDLP from 1979 to 2001 and was also MP for Newry and Armagh from 1986 to 2005.
He represented the SDLP as MLA for Newry and Armagh between 1998 and 2003, having served in previous Stormont institutions and was also elected at council level.
Mr Mallon briefly served in the Seanad between May and December 1982 after being appointed by then Taoiseach Charlie Haughey.
Alongside party leader John Hume, Mr Mallon was at the forefront of the SDLP throughout the Troubles and was steadfast in his opposition to violence.
Seamus Mallon was an Irish Patriot. He lived for our country and has left an indelible mark on the lives of everyone who enjoys the peace he helped forge.— Colum Eastwood (@columeastwood) January 24, 2020
I'm proud to have called him a friend. My prayers are with Orla, Mark and Lara. https://t.co/aU9mJRJwB6 pic.twitter.com/QO7Dy3Fi9S
Born in Markethill, Armagh in 1936, Mr Mallon attended St Patrick's Grammar School, where he was noted for his talent as a GAA footballer. He went on to represent his native county.
Before entering politics, Mr Mallon worked as a teacher, becoming headmaster of St James Primary School in Markethill.
Like many founding members of the SDLP he became involved in politics through the civil rights movement.
He stepped away from the SDLP leadership in 2001 alongside John Hume, and did not contest his Assembly or Westminster seat.
Mr Mallon published his autobiography 'A Shared Home Place' last year, reflecting on his life and political career.
“As I prepare to take my leave of our shared home place, I find comfort in an old Greek proverb: ‘A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit’,” the book ended.
He is survived by his daughter Orla and granddaughter Poppy, as well as sisters Maura, Jean and Kate. Mr Mallon's wife Gertrude predeceased him in 2016.
A book of condolence for Mr Mallon is opened at Belfast City Hall on Saturday.