Jim Molyneaux, a quiet but canny politician who led the Ulster Unionist Party through some of Northern Ireland's bloodiest years and the early period of peacemaking, has died at the age of 94.

Party colleagues and the Northern Ireland government confirmed his death Monday, but didn't specify a cause.

Throughout his 1979-1995 leadership, Molyneaux kept the Ulster Unionists as Northern Ireland's largest party and main representative of its British Protestant majority, despite strong competition from Ian Paisley's hard-line Democratic Unionists.

Molyneaux favored integrating Northern Ireland with the rest of the United Kingdom and opposed key goals of 1990s peacemaking, particularly the creation of a local Northern Ireland government and the central role given to Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist party linked to the outlawed Irish Republican Army.