NOBEL Peace Prize winner and prominent Northern Ireland politician John Hume has died at the age of 83.
Mr Hume, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize for efforts in forging the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, had suffered ill health for a number of years.
The former Social Democratic and Labour Party leader died in a Londonderry nursing home following a long period of illness.
He had had dementia for many years.
In a statement, Mr Hume's family said: "We are deeply saddened to announce that John passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning after a short illness.
"We would like to extend our deepest and heartfelt thanks to the care and nursing staff of Owen Mor nursing home in Derry.
"The care they have shown John in the last months of his life has been exceptional."
They added: "John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother. He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family.
"It seems particularly apt for these strange and fearful days to remember the phrase that gave hope to John and so many of us through dark times: we shall overcome."
Tributes have been paid to Hume, one of the key architects of peace in Northern Ireland, after his death on Monday morning.
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood hailed Hume as "truly Ireland’s greatest".
He said: "It is no exaggeration to say that each and every one of us now lives in the Ireland Hume imagined – an island at peace and free to decide its own destiny.
"This is an historic moment on this island but most of all it is a moment of deep, deep sadness."
He added: "John Hume was our Martin Luther King."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described Mr Hume as a "political giant", while Irish premier Micheal Martin said he was a "great hero and a true peacemaker".
Former prime minister Tony Blair hailed Mr Hume's "epic" contribution to the peace process.
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill also paid tribute.
In a joint statement with his wife Hillary, Bill Clinton described the former SDLP leader as having fought a long war for peace.
They said: "His chosen weapon: an unshakeable commitment to non-violence, persistence, kindness and love. With his enduring sense of honour he kept marching on against all odds towards a brighter future for all the children of Northern Ireland.
"Through his faith in principled compromise, and his ability to see his adversaries as human beings, John helped forge the peace that has held to this day."
Meanwhile former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams paid tribute to Hume as a "giant in Irish politics".
Mr Hume, a former MEP for Northern Ireland, was a founding member of the party he went on to lead for 22 years.
He was a key figure in the civil rights movement of the late 1960s and throughout his political career remained steadfast in his commitment to non-violence.
His participation in secret talks with then Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in the late 1980s and early 1990s was a key catalyst for the peace process.
The SDLP leader faced intense criticism, including some from within his own party, when his dialogue with Mr Adams became public in 1993.
Despite threats to his life, he persisted with his efforts to engage with the republican movement and to convince the IRA to end its campaign of violence.
The highlight of his career came in 1998 with the signing of the historic Good Friday accord which largely ended Northern Ireland's 30-year sectarian conflict.
Along with Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble, now Lord Trimble, Mr Hume was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to stopping the bloodshed.
In 2010, Mr Hume was named "Ireland's Greatest" in a poll by Ireland's national broadcaster RTE.
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Mr Johnson said there would have been no Good Friday Agreement without Mr Hume.
"John Hume was quite simply a political giant," he said.
"He stood proudly in the tradition that was totally opposed to violence and committed to pursuing his objectives by exclusively peaceful and democratic means."
The Prime Minister added: "With his passing we have lost a great man who did so much to help bring an end to the Troubles and build a better future for all.
"His vision paved the way for the stability, positivity and dynamism of the Northern Ireland of today, and his passing is a powerful reminder of how far Northern Ireland has come."