Peace on the island of Ireland would not have happened when it did without John Hume, according to Gerry Adams.
The former Sinn Féin leader paid tribute to Mr Hume after his death at the age of 83 was announced by his family today.
Mr Hume, a founding member of the SDLP and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was seen as one of the principal architects of the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
However, he was criticised for holding secret meetings with Mr Adams, who was the leader of Sinn Féin at the time, but always defended his position.
Speaking on Newstalk's Lunchtime Live, Mr Adams said the talks were so important because they were inclusive.
He said: "The fact that John Hume was prepared to put his name to a statement which was pointing towards another way forward was hugely significant and influential.
"The fact that from the Republican point of view that I was prepared to do the same was influential on many people.
"We both had our challenges."
He said groups across the political divide "stuck with it and we developed an appreciation that each of us were genuine and sincere about trying to find an alternative way forward".
"Once you started dealing with people the same way in which you would wanted to be dealt, that worked.
Mr Hume's major achievement was that he "stuck with" his message of peace.
Mr Adams added: "Many of the people who may be lauding John Hume today on the back of it breaking that he was talking to me wouldn't have given him the light of day, particularly those in the establishment at the time and in the establishment media.
"He was right, he wanted to go beyond talking about peace to make it happen and it wouldn't have happened when it did without John Hume."