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Ex-IRA Commander And Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Dies

He'd been suffering from a rare heart condition.

21/03/2017 5:38 PM AEDT | Updated 21/03/2017 9:55 PM AEDT

Northern Ireland’s former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness has died aged 66.

He had been suffering from a rare heart condition and passed away at Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital with his family by his bedside, according to reports.

His closest political ally, Gerry Adams, said on Tuesday morning: “Throughout his life, Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.

[SEE ALSO: There’s Been A Deeply Divided Reaction To The Death Of Martin McGuinness]

Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters
<strong>Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness smiles during a news conference in January of this year.</strong>

“He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the reunification of his country.

“On behalf of republicans everywhere we extend our condolences to Bernie, Fiachra, Emmettt, Fionnuala and Grainne, grandchildren and the extended McGuinness family.”

At the time of the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings McGuiness was second-in-command of the IRA in Derry but later turned to politics.

He was Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator and played a central role in the Northern Ireland peace process.

McGuinness initially took on the post of education minister and was Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister by 2007 alongside Peter Robinson, Ian Paisley, and Arlene Foster.

In recent years, he had said: “My war is over. My job as a political leader is to prevent that war and I feel very passionate about it.”

Prime Minister Theresa May said he “played a defining role in leading the Republican movement away from violence”.

She added: “In doing so, he made an essential and historic contribution to the extraordinary journey of Northern Ireland from conflict to peace.”

Sinn Fein said in a statement : “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.”

McGuinness stood down in January in protest at the DUP’s handling of the ‘cash for ash’ energy scandal, triggering a snap election.

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