Former US President Bill Clinton pays tribute to 'courageous' Martin McGuinness
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Former US President Bill Clinton pays tribute to 'courageous' Martin McGuinness

FORMER President of the United States Bill Clinton has paid tribute to the late Martin McGuinness. 

President Clinton employed a Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, sending Senator George Mitchell to mediate between London and Dublin following the 1994 cease fire.

During his presidency in the early 1990s he, alongside Martin McGuinness, was seen as one of the main architects of the Good Friday Agreement which he regarded as one of his greatest foreign policy achievements.

In a statement to The Irish Post, the Clintons said they were "saddened" to hear of his death, and paid tribute to the "courageous" leader.

"Hillary and I were saddened to learn of the death of Martin McGuinness, who devoted his life to his beloved Northern Ireland.

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"When he decided to fight for peace, Martin was calm, courageous, and direct. And when he gave his word, that was as good as gold.

"As Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator, his integrity and willingness to engage in principled compromise were invaluable in reaching the Good Friday Agreement.

"In the years that followed, he played an even more important role in ensuring that the peace would last - personally overseeing the arms decommissioning, joining the new government as the first Education Minister, and later serving as Deputy First Minister, and doing it all with a sense of humor and fairness that inspired both his friends and former foes.

"My lasting memory of him will be the pride he took in his efforts to improve disadvantaged schools in Unionist and Protestant communities.

"He believed in a shared future, and refused to live in the past, a lesson all of us who remain should learn and live by. May he rest in peace."

The death of Martin McGuinness was confirmed this morning by President of Sinn Féin, and long-term friend, Gerry Adams.

Mr McGuinness passed away aged 66 after a short illness, his party announced in a statement.

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"It is with deep regret and sadness that we have learnt of the death of our friend and comrade Martin McGuinness who passed away in Derry during the night.

"He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.

"He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country. But above all he loved his family and the people of Derry and he was immensely proud of both.”

He is survived by his wife Bernie and four children, Fiachra, Emmet, Fionnuala and Gráinne, his grandchildren and the extended McGuinness family.