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Martin McGuinness, former IRA commander and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, died 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 leader in the Irish Republican Army terrorist group before becoming Sinn Fein's chief negotiator during the Northern Ireland peace process.

In a statement, 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.