Northern Ireland news

President Michael D Higgins leads Irish tributes to Duke of Edinburgh

Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Peter Sheridan from Co-operation Ireland as the Duke of Edinburgh meets Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in 2012. Picture by Paul Faith/PA Wire

IRISH President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to Duke of Edinburgh, saying the senior royal had an "unfailing commitment and devotion to duty."

The president sent condolences on behalf of the people of Ireland to Queen Elizabeth, her extended family and the people of the United Kingdom,.

"In the course of his long service he frequently brought an air of informality to otherwise formal occasions," President Higgins said of the duke, who died yesterday, aged 99.

"His distinctive presence and unique sense of humour put participants at ease and always engaged those who encountered him. Prince Philip was a steadfast support to Queen Elizabeth II."

The president said he recalled with a "special appreciation" how welcome he and wife Sabina felt in 2014, when he made the first state visit by an Irish head of state to the United Kingdom.

The taoiseach highlighted Prince Philip's contribution to enhancing Anglo-Irish relations.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said his thoughts and prayers were with Queen Elizabeth and her family.

He recalled the "great success" of the 2011 state visit to Ireland by the queen and her husband.

Mr Martin said it was a "historic and important occasion which was a key moment in our bilateral relations".

"The commitment of the royal family to Irish-British relations is an important part of the work we do together - and today we pay tribute to Prince Philip's own important contribution,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: "I want to express sincere condolences to all British people on the sad passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

"Our thoughts and solidarity are with you on a very sad day for the United Kingdom."

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said: "Sincere condolences to Queen Elizabeth and family on the death of her husband Prince Phillip.

"Sympathies to those of a British identity on our island, for whom his death will be felt as a great loss."

Dáil Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Senead Cathaoirleach Senator Mark Daly extended their sympathies on behalf of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

"Throughout his long life he showed an exemplary commitment to public service and was a constant support to Queen Elizabeth," they said.

"Today a family has lost a husband of many years, a father, a grandfather, a friend and a nation has lost a Prince who represented it with good humour and deep dedication over a long period of time."

Prince Philip was a regular visitor to the north and since the 1990s made several visits to the Republic, most notably in 1998 and and accompanying Queen Eilzabeth on her 2011 state visit.

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