The US has paid tribute to the "deep faith and moral courage" of the late Father Alec Reid for his role in helping bring peace to Northern Ireland. 

The 82-year-old Redemptorist priest - whose four decades at Clonard Monastery in north Belfast spanned the entire Troubles - died yesterday in hospital.  

He played a key role in paving the way for negotiations involving the IRA and Sinn Féin which were to eventually lead to an end to the Provisional IRA campaign and political agreement. 

A statement issued by the US Consulate in Belfast paid tribute to his contribution to peace. 

"The United States extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Father Alec Reid, whose deep faith and moral courage helped lay the foundation for dialogue and progress in Northern Ireland, and his passing reminds us of the contributions made by so many along the path to peace.  

"The United States applauds the tremendous progress made by the people and institutions of Northern Ireland, and we will be there as a friend and partner as remaining challenges toward a shared future are resolved in the same spirit of dialogue and mutual respect." 

"Those close to Fr Reid can be proud of his role, and his legacy offers a profoundly powerful inspiration to all of us," the statement ended. 

Fr Reid will be buried following funeral mass at Clonard Church on Wednesday at noon.