Martin McGuinness, Former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Dies at 66

Martin McGuinness pictured at Michelle O'Neill's press conference confirming her as the new Sinn Fein leader in the north on January 23, 2017 in Belfast, (Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Martin McGuinness, former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland died on Monday night after a short illness, according to a statement released by the Sinn Fein party. He was 66.

A controversial figure, McGuinness was a commander in the Irish Republican Army terrorist group before becoming Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator during the Northern Island peace process.

In a statement, his political party Sinn Fein described him as a man of “great determination, dignity and humility.”

“He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country. But above all he loved his family and the people of Derry and he was immensely proud of both,” Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said in a statement.

His death comes less than three months after he resigned as Deputy First Minister, sparking an election and threatening Northern Ireland’s fragile power sharing arrangement.

He retired from politics on January 19, saying his health had been deteriorating.