(CNN) - Worldwide tributes for U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, who has died after a long battle with brain cancer, poured in Wednesday, led by politicians hailing his role in securing a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/26/kennedy.blair.gi.art.jpg caption="Senator Kennedy, left, pictured with former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998."]
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose administration presided over the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which led to an end to decades of sectarian violence in the province and established a united ruling Assembly, praised Kennedy's commitment to the process.
"I saw his focus and determination first hand in Northern Ireland where his passionate commitment was matched with a practical understanding of what needed to be done to bring about peace and to sustain it," Blair said.
Kennedy, of Irish Catholic ancestry, was initially an outspoken opponent of British military deployment to the province during the violence of the 1970s and 80s in which more than 3,600 people were killed, but later moderated his views to support negotiations that brought all sides to the table.
The senator is credited with getting an American visa for Gerry Adams - leader of the pro-Irish nationalism Sinn Fein party accused of links to Irish Republican Army militants - allowing him to attend a pivotal U.S. conference on Northern Ireland's future.