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'We have lost a great American': Michael D Higgins, former US presidents pay tributes to George H.W. Bush

The 41st US President died on Friday at the age of 94.

Former President George H.W. Bush
Former President George H.W. Bush
Image: AP/PA Images

Updated Dec 1st 2018, 2:39 PM

TRIBUTES HAVE POURED in for the former US president George H.W. Bush following his death on Friday.

The 41st president’s family confirmed his passing at the age of 94, which comes just months after the death of his wife and revered first lady Barbara in April.

US President Donald Trump declared Wednesday as a national day of mourning, and confirmed he and his wife Melania would attend Bush’s state funeral in Washington DC.

President Michael D Higgins offered his sympathies to Bush’s family and to the people of the United States on behalf of the Irish people.

“To his Presidency of the United States he brought all of the energy and the values he cherished, drawn from his Texas and Massachusetts roots,” he said in a statement.

“He will be remembered, too, for the directness with which he expressed his policy principles and his efforts to achieve bipartisanship.”

In the US, tributes were led by a number of surviving former presidents, including Bush’s son, the 43rd president George W. Bush.

“George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” Bush Jr said.

His brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, took to social media to pay tribute to Bush Snr, tweeting:  “I already miss the greatest human being that I will ever know.”

Meanwhile, Trump praised Bush for what he brought to the presidency during his four-year term in office between 1988 and 1992.

“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service,” the US President said in a statement.

Former president Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the 1992 election, commented on the unlikely friendship he struck up with his one-time political rival.

“I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts,” Clinton said.

A letter from Bush wishing Clinton luck on the day of the latter’s inauguration, in which Bush said he would be “rooting for” Clinton during his presidency, also went viral on social media.

Barack Obama also highlighted Bush’s role in US politics, saying his life was a “testament to the notion that public service was a noble, joyous calling”.

“It’s a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he’d want all of us to try,” he said.

Others to pay tribute to Bush included actor Arnold Schwarzenegger – a former Republican governor – and Apple CEO Tim Cook, who said “we have lost a great American”.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker alos hailed Bush for the part he played in bringing unity and peace to Europe after the Cold War.

“I will never forget the role he played in making Europe a safer and more united place following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain,” Juncker said.

European Parliament president Antonio Tajani also said in a tweet that “Europe has lost a champion of its freedom and unity during the Cold War”, 

With additional reporting from AFP.

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