David Ford MLA said: “Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest leaders of the past century. He will be sorely missed by millions, not just in South Africa, but right across the world. He was one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century.
“His name became synonymous with peace and reconciliation. It was through his leadership that South Africa was able to throw off the shackles of apartheid.
“As our peace process began to gather speed in the 1990s, I know many people here took inspiration from what Nelson Mandela was able to achieve for South Africa. We learnt so much from him during the long road to the Good Friday Agreement.
“I remember a quote by him which has particular relevance to Northern Ireland – ‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite’.
“I would like to pass on my condolences and that of my party to his family and friends.”