John Hume was a 1998 Nobel peace prize recipient for his efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland after decades of conflict.
John Hume, a key architect of Northern Ireland's Good Friday peace agreement, died on Monday at the age of 83, his Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) party said. "The death of John Hume represents the loss of 20th century Ireland's most significant and consequential political figure," SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said in a statement. "This is an historic moment on this island but most of all it is a moment of deep, deep sadness."
The Catholic leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party, Hume was regarded by many as the principal architect behind the peace agreement.
Hume jointly won the 1998 Nobel peace prize with David Trimble, former member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).
Hume's SDLP campaigned for the non-violent unification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland and the UUP sought to keep the region under British rule.
"It is impossible to properly express the scale and significance of John Hume's life," Irish prime minister Michael Martin said. "He was one of the towering figures of Irish public life of the last century. His vision and tenacity saved this country."
"What an extraordinary man, peacemaker, politician, leader, civil rights campaigner, family man, Derryman, inspiration," wrote Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, on Twitter.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair, a negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement with Hume, described the late Nobel laureate as "a political titan" whose contribution to peace in Northern Ireland was "epic."
"Derry, and the whole island, is in mourning today following the passing of our friend, leader and greatest peacemaker," said current SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood. "We can never repay all that John did for us but we can live the values that meant so much to him."
kw/rc (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)