The President, Micheal D. Higgins, has paid tribute to the late Martin McGuinness’”warmth, unfailing courtesy” and his “immense contribution to peace”.
President Higgins said Mr. McGuinness’ leadership will be sorely missed but first and foremost shared his condolences with his family.
In a statement released in the wake of Mr. McGuinness’ death this morning, the President said: “It was with great sadness that I have heard of the passing of Martin McGuinness, and on behalf of Sabina and myself, may I express our deepest sympathy to his wife Bernadette and to his family.
“The world of politics and the people across this island will miss the leadership he gave, shown most clearly during the difficult times of the peace process, and his commitment to the values of genuine democracy that he demonstrated in the development of the institutions in Northern Ireland.
“As President of Ireland, I wish to pay tribute to his immense contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland – a contribution which has rightly been recognised across all shades of opinion.”
He added: “As a political colleague of many years, and having participated together in the Presidential election campaign of 2011 that brought us all over Ireland, Sabina and I have appreciated both Martin McGuinness’ warmth and his unfailing courtesy.”
President Higgins also referred to their joint passion for sport, as well as politics, especially ‘the beautiful game’.
“Our paths have crossed many times in recent years at official events, including most recently at the GPO for the 1916 commemorations, as well as in our celebrations of ‘the beautiful game’, at Glentoran and in France at the European Championships.
“In addition to his services in public life, as an inclusive believer in community in all its forms he will also be remembered for his warm support for Derry GAA and Derry City FC.
“His death leaves a gap that will be difficult to fill. May he rest in peace.”