Sinn Féin has announced the death of leading IRA figure Bobby Storey, who allegedly acted as the organization's head of intelligence during the Troubles.
Storey was an influential figure in the republican movement throughout the troubles in Northern Ireland and the subsequent peace process.
He had been unwell for a significant period of time and died on Sunday at the age of 64.
Storey became involved in the republican movement from a young age when he was interned without trial as a teenager.
In 1981, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison when he was found in possession of a rifle.
Two years later, Storey was involved in one of the most infamous events of the Troubles: The Maze Prison Escape.
Read more: On This Day: IRA inmates escape from Maze Prison in 1983
Storey helped to orchestrate a mass breakout from one of the most escape-proof prisons in Europe that ultimately resulted in 38 republican paramilitaries escaping from the prison. One prison officer died during the escape, while another was shot in the head but survived.
The former Sinn Féin chairman spent a total of more than 20 years in prison during the Troubles and Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside used parliamentary privilege in 2005 to claim that he was the IRA's chief of intelligence.
Sinn Féin confirmed his death in a tweet on Sunday afternoon with Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald describing him as "a champion of the peace process".
Sinn Féin President @MaryLouMcDonald has expressed deep sadness at the death of Belfast republican Bobby Storey https://t.co/actjc62mrm pic.twitter.com/2QsQTlt1g4— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) June 21, 2020
McDonald said that Storey was deeply committed to a united Ireland and equality and social justice for all.
"It was with deep sadness that I learned today of the death of Bobby Storey," McDonald said in a statement.
"Bobby was a lifelong and very deeply committed Irish Republican whose passing will be received with great sadness by republicans throughout Ireland."
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