Tributes have been paid to former deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon after his death at the age of 83.
The former SDLP deputy leader passed away a period of illness.
One of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Mallon served alongside First Minister David Trimble in the Stormont Executive from 1998 to 2001.
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 grandchildren. Mr Mallon's wife Gertrude predeceased him in 2016.
A book of condolence for Mr Mallon is set to open at Belfast City Hall on Saturday.
Seamus Mallon made an extraordinary contribution to democracy and peace in Northern Ireland. I want to express my sincere condolences to his daughter Orla, to his family and friends and to the SDLP.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 24, 2020
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that Ireland had lost one of its most fierce champions for justice, equality and peace following Mr Mallon's passing.
Mr Eastwood said that Seamus Mallon’s life's work carved a pathway beyond Northern Ireland's troubled past and gave the opportunity to build a shared home on the island.
“Seamus Mallon was a force of nature. In the darkest days of conflict, when hope was in short supply, Seamus represented the fierce thirst for justice that ran through the SDLP and through communities that had lost so much to political violence," the Foyle MP said.
“His passion for peace underpinned by truth, justice and reconciliation came from a lifetime as a proud son of Markethill where he was born, grew up and raised his own family. It didn’t matter who you were, where you worshipped or what your politics were, there was always help to be found at Seamus’ hearth."
Issuing a statement on behalf of her husband John, Pat Hume said that history would remember Mr Mallon "as one of the great Irish patriots and peacemakers".
“He was a man of huge strength and courage, who stood with John for many years in the fight for justice, peace and reconciliation on this island," Mrs Hume said.
“Seamus was fearless in his condemnation of violence regardless of its source and was a rock of integrity throughout his career which spanned some of our most difficult days.
“His clarity, insight and political nous sustained the SDLP, often during periods while John was away, and were a source of inspiration not only at home but throughout the world."
First Minister Arlene Foster said she was "very sorry" to learn of Mr Mallon's passing.
"As Seamus said "we have two stark and clear choices. We can live together in generosity and compassion or we can continue to die in bitter disharmony," the DUP leader wrote on Twitter.
Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said that he would be "remembered for his contribution to Irish politics over many decades as the SDLP deputy leader and the key role he played in achieving the Good Friday Agreement".
Mrs McDonald's party colleague Michelle O'Neill said that Mr Mallon "made a huge contribution to the politics of peace and the Good Friday Agreement".
"His mark on our history is indelible," the deputy First Minister said.
Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey described the former deputy First Minister as a "towering figure".
"I had the pleasure of serving alongside him during the first Assembly mandate back in 1998, and witnessed at first hand the central role he played in establishing these political institutions," the Sinn Fein MLA said.
Very sad to learn of passing of the great Seamus Mallon. He has made an extraordinary contribution to politics & people on this island. He was tough, intelligent and passionate, always working for peace and reconciliation.— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) January 24, 2020
My sincere condolences to his family and friends. RIP pic.twitter.com/q9waXGamwE
Lord Trimble told BBC Radio Ulster his former Stormont deputy was committed to peaceful, democratic politics.
"He was a stubborn man but at the end of the day he was prepared to make an agreement, which we did and implemented," he said.
Lord Empey said that he did not believe the Good Friday talks process could have succeeded without Mr Mallon.
"He understood the practicalities and realities of politics and government, something that some of his colleagues failed to appreciate," the Ulster Unionist peer said.
“He also had a dry sense of humour, especially during the many crisis talks we had at Hillsborough and other locations over the years."
Former US President Bill Clinton, a key figure in the peace process, said that he and wife Hilary were saddened by the former SDLP deputy leader's passing, calling him "a hero of the peace process".
"Seamus never wavered from his vision for a shared future where neighbours 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," President Clinton said.
"A teacher in practice and in heart, the lessons of his life and power of his example are as important today as ever."
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that "history will remember Seamus as an architect of the Good Friday Agreement, a committed peace builder and a tireless champion of an inclusive Ireland".
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said that Mr Mallon was "one of the most important architects of peace in Northern Ireland".
"Brave, blunt, often prepared to swim against the tide if he felt it right, he was someone deeply respected and admired across the troubled landscape of Irish politics," Mr Blair said.
"I spent many hours listening to him and learning from him. He had a brilliant turn of phrase and sharp wit which he would use to great effect. He could be difficult but never ill intentioned.
"Tough to negotiate with but always for a purpose. Even occasionally fierce but always wise."
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said that he was deeply saddened by Mr Mallon's passing.
"His reputation as a politician and community activist of unsurpassed courage, civility and fairness is held by all those who had the privilege of knowing him," he said
"Few people have influenced the peace process in Northern Ireland more than Seamus Mallon, a formidable opponent and, a tough negotiator in speech and act, but always honest and honourable. He was a man who demonstrated integrity and courage in the face of opposition and threat, playing a vital role in building the peace process."
Seamus Mallon dedicated his political career to making Northern Ireland a better place. His leadership with David Trimble of the first Executive in 1999 set Northern Ireland on a new democratic course. I want to express my sincere condolences to his family, friends and @SDLPlive— Julian Smith MP (@JulianSmithUK) January 24, 2020
Archbishop Eamon Martin said that Armagh and Ireland had lost "one of our most respected sons and bravest leaders".
"People sometimes speak of the 'noble vocation of politics'. Seamus was a shining example of someone who gave his life to that vocation and in the service of others. He will be remembered as a man of integrity and great courage who was not afraid to speak up or call it as it was – even at great personal risk. A man of strong faith, Seamus was calm, fair and principled, and always respectful of the rights of others," he said.
Alliance leader Naomi Long said that Mr Mallon had contributed "an enormous amount to the peace process".
“Seamus played a pivotal role in the delivery of the Good Friday Agreement, which set us on the path to a peaceful society.," she said.
"Throughout his political life he showed a total commitment to civil rights and the ending of violence. He was not afraid to speak his mind and his integrity stayed with him to the end.”
UUP leader Steve Aiken said there could be no doubt that Mr Mallon was a "great Irishman".
“In Seamus, the Ulster Unionist Party found someone who we could work with to restore devolution to Northern Ireland. Seamus Mallon was a tough politician who was committed to the primacy of politics and never forgot his roots," he said.
Former PSNI Chief Constable Sir George Hamilton said that Mr Mallon had made a "massive contribution to the peace and political process".
"Thoughts with Seamus' family at this time of loss. Go raibh maith agat," he wrote on Twitter.