Nobel Peace Prize winner and former SDLP leader John Hume has died aged 83.
He died in the early hours of Monday at Owen Mor nursing home in Londonderry.
One of the highest-profile politicians in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years, he helped create the climate that brought an end to the Troubles.
The former teacher came to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement in 1968. He was one of the founding members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1970.
He became leader of the party in 1979, a post which he relinquished in November 2001.
Mr Hume had been suffering from dementia for many years.
In a statement, his family said: “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.”
Analysis – BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport:
There is no way you could overestimate John Hume’s contribution in the political development of Northern Ireland.
He was definitely, during those years, the brains behind the approach to the peace process.
He worked on differing relationships, trying to solve problems which seemed for so many years to be completely without any possible solution.
He helped create the political space in which the different parties could manoeuvre their way towards what became the the Good Friday Agreement.
John Hume battled on at very hard times during the Troubles -when any kind of dialogue came under attack from opponents as being a sign of weakness.
“He persevered with his efforts to bring about a solution.
The family’s statement added: “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.
“As a family, we are unfailingly inspired by the professionalism, compassion, and love they have shown to John and all those under their care.
“We can never adequately show them our thanks for looking after John at a time when we could not.
“The family drew great comfort in being with John again in the last days of his life.”