Higgins pays tribute to Chávez
A supporter of Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez holds a poster with a photograph of Chavez and the words
President Michael D Higgins has said his thoughts are with the people of Venezuela after the death of Hugo Chávez.
The Venezuelan president died after a two-year battle with cancer yesterday, ending the socialist leader’s 14-year rule of the South American country.
The 58-year-old won a new six-year term as recently as October.
Mr Higgins said: “I was very sorry to hear of the death, after a long illness, of president Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.
“President Chávez achieved a great deal during his term in office, particularly in the area of social development and poverty reduction.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the family of President Chávez on their great loss. My thoughts and best wishes are also with the people of Venezuela as they come to terms with this sad news.”
The death was announced by vice president Nicolas Maduro, surrounded by other government officials, in a national television broadcast.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he learned with sadness of the death of Mr Chávez. "He was an important figure on the international stage, as well as in his own country, and I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his family and to the people of Venezuela on his passing."
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams also paid tribute to Mr Chávez, who he said had worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Venezuelan citizens.
“He dedicated himself to building a new and radical society in Venezuela,” said Mr Adams. “His progressive social and economic changes took millions out of poverty. He extended free health care and education for all citizens and his re-election last year with a huge majority was testimony to his vision.”
Mr Adams said Mr Chávez was also a hugely influential figure in South America and in world politics. “He was an energetic and enthusiastic leader and when it was discovered that he had cancer he confronted his illness with the same courage and determination that marked his political life,” he added.