FORMER West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has expressed his sadness at the death of former Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan.

Shane – who led the Pogues during the 1980s and 1990s – was unwell for some time. His death was announced today, at the age of 65.

The Pogues were frequent visitors to Belfast during their heyday, playing the Ulster Hall and Kings Hall, while Shane also played at Féile an Phobail in 1995 with his new band The Popes. He was back with The Popes in August 1998, this time playing an outdoor concert at Beechmount Leisure Centre.

“I am deeply saddened at the news of the death of my good friend Shane MacGowan," said Mr Adams. "I extend my solidarity and condolences to Victoria and to his sister Siobhan, his family and many friends.

“I was with Shane and Victoria last Wednesday after he was released from hospital.

“I have been a fan of Shane for decades. He came to West Belfast on several occasions to play at Féile an Phobail.

“Shane was an extraordinary human being whose music and kindness lifted people’s spirit. His music is tremendous and his lyrics and writing reflect who we are as a people. The Pogues were one of the best bands ever.

“Ireland has lost a great patriot, a poet and friend of the down-trodden and marginalised.

"Shane’s generosity and solidarity and his wonderful music and lyrics touched many millions over the years and will continue to do so into the future.

“Tá sé anois ar shlí na fírinne"

President Michael D Higgins paid a moving tribute to Shane MacGowan.

"Shane will be remembered as one of music’s greatest lyricists. So many of his songs would be perfectly crafted poems, if that would not have deprived us of the opportunity to hear him sing them.

"The genius of Shane’s contribution includes the fact that his songs capture within them, as Shane would put it, the measure of our dreams – of so many worlds, and particularly those of love, of the emigrant experience and of facing the challenges of that experience with authenticity and courage, and of living and seeing the sides of life that so many turn away from.

"His words have connected Irish people all over the globe to their culture and history, encompassing so many human emotions in the most poetic of ways."

Shane's wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, described him as the "love of my life and the most beautiful soul".

"I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures," she said.

"There's no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world.

"Thank you for your presence in this world. You made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music. You will live in my heart forever."