Tributes have been paid to the former British Conservative Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath, who died last night at his home in Salisbury. He was 89.

Edward Heath was prime minister from 1970 to 1974, and was responsible for bringing Britain into what was then the European Economic Community in 1973.

He lost two consecutive elections in 1974 following a period of hostilities between trade unions and employers, which led to industry being put on a three-day week, domestic power supplies being rationed, and TV limited by curfew closedowns.

The Taoiseach said Mr Heath would be remembered with particular affection in Ireland because of his negotiations in the 1974 Sunningdale Agreement.

Bertie Ahern said that was the model for subsequent efforts to bring about peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

Former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, who worked with Mr Heath on drawing up the Sunningdale Agreement, described him as a forthright and positive politician.

Mr Heath's successor, Margaret Thatcher, now Baroness Thatcher, last night hailed him as a political giant and the first modern Conservative leader.

Mrs Thatcher was a political rival, and their long rivalry is part of modern British political history. As a backbencher in later years he was a vocal critic of the new Tory leader.

He remained an MP for a further quarter century, and was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Garter in 1992, but declined a peerage.

He was a keen musician and an accomplished sailor, captaining the UK entry in the Admiral's Cup in 1971 while he was prime minister.