The death has taken place in the US of the entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Flynn, aged 92, a prominent supporter of the peace process who encouraged the republican movement to commit itself to exclusively peaceful means.

As the first Irish-American chairman of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, he invited all of Northern Ireland's political leaders, including Gerry Adams, to the US.

In 1996 he was the Grand Marshal of New York's Saint Patrick's Day Parade. Among the many awards he received was a CBE for his exceptional contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin TD and former party leader Gerry Adams expressed his "sincere condolences and solidarity to the family of my good friend Bill Flynn" following news of the death.

Mr Adams said Mr Flynn's "importance can be measured in the frequency with which all of the governments - Irish, British and US - talk to him and seek to involve him in whatever the current initiative might be".

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney also paid tribute to Mr Flynn today saying he had mobilised Irish-American support for peace in Northern Ireland.

Born in New York, Bill Flynn's parents came from counties Mayo and Down. A graduate of Fordham University, he played a major role in developing Mutual of America as a significant player in the insurance sector.

He is predeceased by two of his four children, Bobby and Jimmy.