SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has paid tribute to the life and work of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, following his death aged 90.
Mr Eastwood said Archbishop Tutu’s life had served as an inspiration to people around the world, and praised the influence of his work for freedom, truth and justice on the North’s own peace process.
The Foyle MP said:
“In the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu the world has lost a true human rights hero and Ireland has lost a great friend. Archbishop Tutu’s tireless campaigning for an end to apartheid in his native South Africa and for basic rights to be extended to all the people there made him a household name across the globe. He used his platform to help those in need both at home and abroad and we all owe him a great debt of gratitude.
“Archbishop Tutu knew that the only foundation for reconciliation is truth. He sensitively did all he could to acknowledge the difficult journey his country had travelled and through his work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he worked to help heal the wounds inflicted on his people.
“He also became a familiar face in Ireland – not just through his work in South Africa, but through his attempts to help in our own peace process in any way possible. I know his commitment to peace and justice served as an inspiration to many within the SDLP and he was held in the highest regard by his fellow Nobel laureate John Hume.
“Archbishop Tutu’s passing brings into focus the huge contribution he made. Alongside contemporaries like Nelson Mandela he helped end the horrific apartheid regime in South Africa and despite all he had achieved, continued to use this experience to help other countries on their own journey to peace.”