Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has paid tribute to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who is retiring on health grounds after 49 years in power.
Gerry Adams met Fidel Castro in 2001
Mr Adams met President Castro during a controversial visit to Cuba in 2001.
The West Belfast MP said Tuesday's announcement marked "the end of an era in Cuban and Latin American politics".
"He leaves behind him a country with world class health and education systems and I wish him well in his retirement," he said.
Mr Adams' 2001 trip to Cuba was criticised at the time by some US politicians, including Republican Congressman Peter King, a long time supporter of Sinn Fein, who described Fidel Castro as "a human rights violator".
While he was in Havana, Mr Adams unveiled a monument in memory of the 10 republican prison hunger-strikers who died in Northern Ireland in 1981.
Mr Castro has ruled Cuba since leading a communist revolution in 1959 but announced on Tuesday he will not accept another term as president.
The 81-year-old handed over power temporarily to his brother Raul in July 2006 when he underwent surgery and has not been seen in public since then.
Cuba's new parliament will meet on Sunday to elect a new president.
Washington has called for Cuba to hold free elections, and said its decades-long embargo would remain.