Irish politicians have been paying tribute to Pope John Paul tonight.

The Tánaiste, Mary Harney, said John Paul was one of the true iconic figures of the late twentieth century and an inspirational spiritual leader to billions of people around the globe. Ms Harney said he embodied what we consider to be the core Christian values of compassion and charity. She said he attached great importance to the Irish peace process.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the Pope was a towering figure in the Catholic Church and the Christian world for quarter of a century. Mr Kenny said ‘he reached out to millions of people of all nations with his charisma, his force of personality and his basic humanity.’

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said his death marks the end of a truly remarkable era in the history of the Catholic Church.

'For more than a quarter of a century he was not just the dominant figure in the religious life of the world's Catholics but was also played a highly influential role in world affairs generally.'

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP expressed his deep sorrow at the news and has extended condolences to the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Most Rev Dr Guiseppe Lazzarotto and to the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, Dr Seán Brady.

He said ‘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 this evening at the news of his death.

Trevor Sargent of the Green Party paid tribute to Pope John Paul's hunger for justice and global vision. Mr Sargent said ‘His characteristic faith and courage always shone through.’