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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 April 2005, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
NI leaders pay tribute to Pope
Religious and political leaders from across the island of Ireland have been paying tribute to Pope John Paul II, who has died aged 84 after a long illness.

Archbishop Sean Brady, Head of the Catholic Church in Ireland

"A life of outstanding faith and generous service to Christ and the whole human family has serenely departed this world this evening with the death of our beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop Sean Brady
Archbishop Brady said the Pope was a courageous leader
"We mourn with heavy hearts and an immense sense of loss the death of a loving pastor, a gentle teacher and a courageous leader.

"We thank God for his holy life, his inspiring example and his unfailing affection for Ireland and the Irish people.

"We join with countless others around the world in grateful memory and prayerful intercession for his eternal happiness and peace."

Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Robin Eames

"I wish to convey to my colleague, Archbishop Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland and to all the bishops, clergy and people of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland the deepest sympathy of the Church of Ireland on the death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

Church of Ireland Primate Dr Robin Eames
Dr Robin Eames said the Pope had earned a significant place in history
"As our Roman Catholic friends mourn his death, we assure them of our thoughts and prayers at this sad time for their worldwide church.

"Pope John Paul showed immense personal courage in fulfilling his duties when it was so obvious his health was failing. That courage together with a powerful intellect and constant devotion to duty throughout his long Pontificate assured him of a significant place in history.

"In the period of adjustment and election which now faces the Roman Catholic Church I pray that Almighty God will strengthen and guide those who have such heavy responsibilities for the future of their Church."

Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ken Newell

"Throughout his life, Pope John Paul II was a man of great courage who was never scared to stand up for what he believed to be right, whether the issue was moral, social or political.

"Few will forget his visit to Ireland, the vast crowds that greeted him and his call to the men of violence to lay down their arms.

Reverend Ken Newell
Reverend Ken Newell paid tribute to the Pope's forgiving nature
"His commitment to peace particularly in Northern Ireland and the Middle East was demonstrated by his regular prayers for these and other conflict situations.

"Every aspect of his long life exemplified a forgiving nature. After the attempt on his life his desire was to meet with his attacker to understand him and offer forgiveness.

"On behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland I would convey condolences to our fellow country men and women to whom the death of Pope John Paul has brought great sadness."

The Reverend Dr Brian Fletcher, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland

"With other Church leaders I give thanks to God for the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II.

"He was a man who in his ministry, gave great emphasis to the nobility and worth of mankind and was passionate in his defence of the poor and marginalised of the world.

"His passing brings great sorrow to those of his own part of the Christian Church and to these I send the sympathy of the Methodist Church in Ireland."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan

"His devout Christian faith and true courage was an example to all. Even in his last days he showed remarkable but characteristic strength.

Mark Durkan
Mark Durkan remembed the Pope's 1979 Irish visit
"Like so many people, I have very fond memories of the Pope's visit to Ireland in 1979. His powerful spirituality inspired us all at that time and ever since.

"His impassioned plea for peace touched the heart of our nation and left a deep impression on me and countless others across Ireland.

"This is a sad day, not just for all Catholics, but for people of all faiths, who share and cherish the values of humanity and compassion that Pope John Paul II epitomised."

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams

"People throughout Ireland have had a close affinity with Pope John Paul since his historic visit here in 1979 and there will be deep sorrow across the country at the news of his death.

"Although stricken with Parkinsons Disease in recent years, Pope John Paul showed huge courage and determination as he continued to travel and to lead the Catholic Church worldwide.

"I had the honour of greeting Pope John Paul briefly in the summer of 2002."

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble

"I have written to Archbishop Brady to offer my condolences to the Roman Catholics of Northern Ireland today.

"His 26 years Pontificate will undoubtedly be seen as a memorable period for the Catholic Church, and so his passing will be a time of sadness for Roman Catholics across the world.

"Karol Wojtyla's life as Pope was varied, colourful and he was an influential figure on the world stage, but we will all remember him for his time as a Cardinal in Poland and the Polish Catholic Church's role in standing up to and ending Communism."

Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley

"We need to learn that everyone on earth no matter what position he holds or the claims he makes or the support he has must come to death and eternity.

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley sympathised with Catholics over the Pope
"All of us will stand before God. The Bible says 'It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgement'.

"The only way we can prepare for death and eternity is through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and His finished work on the cross at Calvary, which culminated in His bodily resurrection from the tomb and His ascension to God's right hand in Heaven.

"We can understand how Roman Catholics feel at the death of the Pope and we would want in no way to interfere with their expression of sorrow and grief at this time."

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Irish Republic prime minister

Mr Ahern said the Pope had been a towering figure of our lifetime and paid tribute to his passionate pleading on his visit to Ireland calling for an end to armed struggle.

"I have no doubt that this moving appeal played no small part in the development of the framework for peace on this island whose completion was of such continuing concern to him.

"Ireland was one step along his pilgrim way."

Irish President Mary McAleese

"The story of Pope John Paul II is that of a man of immense faith and conviction and, in latter years, great personal courage. He engaged with human culture and civilisation in every aspect and in every corner of the world.

Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese said she felt privileged to have met the Pontiff
"His trust in the future, his never-wavering commitment to the worth of each human life and his witness under the burden of personal suffering constituted a sign of great value in the modern age.

"His influence on the history of his beloved native country and on European history is already evident.

"We are proud that Pope John Paul II was the first Pope in history to visit Ireland and that, in the final years of his life, it was his ambition to return to our midst. I consider it a wonderful privilege to have met him in person as president of Ireland."

Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor Dr Patrick Walsh

"He was an heroic man, heroic at every stage of his life from a very early age when he lost his mother, his only brother and then his father.

"He was heroic in the hardships he endured under the Communist regime in his country.

"He was heroic in the manner in which he endured the attempt on his life and he was heroic in his long-time suffering with illness.

"He was heroic in his dying. He taught us how to live, how to suffer and how to die."

Alliance Party leader David Ford

"The Pope provided leadership to his church and through his travels engaged with people from different faiths in many countries. He was a major figure on the world stage and commanded the respect of Catholics and many others throughout the world.

"Even those who disagreed with the stance he took on certain social issues will respect the role he played in the liberation of central Europe from communism.

"The Pope's courage in the face of ill health and adversity was an example to us all."

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy

"Pope John Paul was a wonderful example of compassion and humility. His commitment to engage with Christians of all denominations and people of all faiths around the world was a practical demonstration of his personal beliefs. He was a great leader of the Catholic church and a towering figure in 20th Century history.

"Pope John Paul's courageous and forgiving attitude during many difficult times was an inspiration to all. I know that Catholics will especially remember his visit to Ireland in 1979 with great fondness.

"The many people who like me were privileged to meet him during his long papacy will recall a man of great warmth, dignity and profound faith."

Cardinal Cahal Daly, former Irish Catholic Primate

"Pope John Paul II had an extraordinary capacity for affection and attentiveness towards individuals.

"There was a charisma about him that drew people to him and him towards people."

Bono, lead singer of rock band U2

U2 lead singer Bono said Pope John Paul II was the "best front-man the Catholic Church ever had".

"A great show man, a great communicator of ideas even if you didn't agree with all of them (and) a great friend to the world's poor, which is how I got to meet him.

"Without John Paul II, it's hard to imagine the Drop the Debt campaign succeeding as it did."

The singer was nominated alongside the Pope for their work campaigning to end world debt.

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