Seamus Mallon: Sharon Stone pays tribute to late Seamus Mallon

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image captionSharon Stone, Betty Williams and Belfast Lord Mayor Daniel Baker signed the book of condolence

A book of condolence for Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister, Seamus Mallon, has opened in Belfast following his death on Friday.

Mr Mallon, who was 83, also served as deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) for 22 years from 1979 to 2001.

The Hollywood star Sharon Stone, who is visiting Belfast, was among those who signed it in tribute to Mr Mallon.

The book opened in Belfast City Hall on Saturday afternoon.

'Respect and admiration'

Mr Mallon was one of the key architects of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which helped to bring an end to 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland, known as the Troubles.

Ms Stone signed her name and included a personal message which said: "With respect and admiration."

She was visiting the building with Northern Ireland peace campaigner and Nobel laureate Betty Williams and later signed one of Belfast's peace walls in memory of Mr Mallon.

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The star's appearance at the city hall caused a stir on social media, including from current SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

He tweeted that the late Mr Mallon would have had "some laugh at Sharon Stone turning up to sign his book of condolence".

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Ms Williams, who cofounded the Peace People movement during the height of the Troubles, was a joint recipient of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.

She told BBC News NI that Ms Stone had asked to see Belfast City Hall during her trip, and after Mr Mallon died the campaigner said that there would be "no greater honour" than to arrive when his book of condolence was being opened.

"Particularly at the beginning of the peace movement, he was such a strong character for peace," Ms Williams said.

She said Mr Mallon was among the first politicians to take part in Peace People walks in the early days of her campaign.

"He'll also be remembered, always," she added.

image captionThe book opened to the public on Saturday afternoon

Other signatories of the book of condolence included Lord Mayor of Belfast Daniel Baker and the SDLP's deputy leader, Nichola Mallon.

Mr Mallon, from Markethill, County Armagh, also served as a member of Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate) during his long career in politics.

Independent Senator Ian Marshall, who is also from Markethill, paid a warm tribute to Mr Mallon on Twitter.

Mr Marshall said he had give a "lifetime of selfless service" to the people of Ireland, north and south.

Another book of condolence will open at the Guildhall in Londonderry on Sunday.

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Mr Mallon's funeral is due to take place at noon on Monday in St James Church, Mullaghbrack, County Armagh.

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