Bishop Tutu, who helped bring an end to the horrors of apartheid in South Africa, died in Cape Town on St Stephen’s Day.
Mr Eastwood said Archbishop Tutu’s life has served as an inspiration to people around the world, and praised the influence of his work for freedom, truth and justice on the North’s own peace process.
The Foyle MP said: “In the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu the world has lost a true human rights hero and Ireland has lost a great friend. Archbishop Tutu’s tireless campaigning for an end to apartheid in his native South Africa and for basic rights to be extended to all the people there made him a household name across the globe. He used his platform to help those in need both at home and abroad and we all owe him a great debt of gratitude.
“Archbishop Tutu knew that the only foundation for reconciliation is truth. He sensitively did all he could to acknowledge the difficult journey his country had travelled and through his work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he worked to help heal the wounds inflicted on his people.
“He also became a familiar face in Ireland – not just through his work in South Africa, but through his attempts to help in our own peace process in any way possible. I know his commitment to peace and justice served as an inspiration to many within the SDLP and he was held in the highest regard by his fellow Nobel laureate John Hume.”
President Michael D. Higgins meanwhile said that with the passing of Desmond Tutu, “the world has lost not only a great spiritual leader but a great advocate for an informed, sensitive and caring society, defined by compassion and kindness”.
“His death will be felt by all those in Ireland who made themselves part of the anti-Apartheid movement. Those Dunnes Stores workers who took part in the strike against Apartheid in the 1980s, and to whom he often referred. Indeed, many who will have valued Archbishop Tutu’s support for the strikes will in particular recall his meeting with striking workers Karen Gearon and Mary Manning, along with union official Brendan Archbold at a stopover in London on his way to receiving the Nobel Prize in 1984.”