One of the founding members of the SDLP, Paddy O'Hanlon, has died following a short illness.

He was 65 years old.

He studied in UCD before becoming a leading member of Northern Ireland's Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.

He was elected an MP for the South Armagh constituency in 1969 and was one of the founding members of the SDLP the following year.

The Northern Ireland parliament was abolished in 1973, and Mr O'Hanlon was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, representing Armagh. In the Assembly, he was the SDLP's Chief Whip.

He stood for the Westminster constituency of Armagh at the February 1974 UK general election, taking second place, with 29.3% of the votes cast.

He stood for the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention and the 1982 Assembly in Co Armagh, but on both occasions was narrowly beaten by fellow party member Hugh News.

Following this second loss, Paddy O'Hanlon left active politics and qualified as a barrister, while remaining a member of the SDLP.

In 2001, he was appointed to head a Task Force to examine services provided by the Government to emigrants.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan described Mr O'Hanlon as one of the best orators of his generation, a real champion of civil rights, justice and reconciliation.

Former SDLP leader and Nobel Prize winner John Hume described Mr O'Hanlon as a dear friend.

He said he was a key figure in the development of the power-sharing model with formed the basis of the Sunningdale Agreement.