Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness: Tributes pour in from friend and foe alike

By Staff Reporter

Tributes to Martin McGuinness flooded in from across the political spectrum last night - from former rivals, as well as supporters and colleagues.

Prime Minister Theresa May: "Martin McGuinness served the people of Northern Ireland as Deputy First Minister for nearly a decade.

"We recognise his work over many years securing a number of significant political agreements.

"He played a key role in moving the republican movement towards a position of using peaceful and democratic means.

"I want to send him best wishes for his retirement."

James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: "I am sorry to hear Martin McGuinness has decided not to stand for another term in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and have spoken to him this evening.

"I thank him on behalf of the Government for his work in securing a number of significant political agreements, as well as his service as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland".

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams: "I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Martin McGuinness.

"He and I first met over 45 years ago behind the barricades in Free Derry and we have been friends and comrades since that time.

"I also want to thank Bernie and the entire McGuinness family for the support they have given to Martin over many years and for allowing him to become the leader, the patriot, the peacemaker and poet that he is."

DUP leader and former First Minister Arlene Foster: "I value the good things achieved by the outgoing Executive and the contribution made by Mr McGuinness to it.

"As Deputy First Minister for almost a decade Martin McGuinness has been a major figure at Stormont.

"While never forgetting the past, I believe the work at Stormont provided the foundations for our relative peace today.

"Despite all that has happened I wish Martin McGuinness a speedy recovery and that he and his wife are able to enjoy time with their family away from the relentless focus of public life."

Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt said: "Martin McGuinness's politics are very different from mine but there is no escaping that he has been a major influence over the 10 years since the DUP decided to work with Sinn Fein in Stormont Castle."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood: "I want to sincerely extend Martin McGuinness every best wish as he takes the decision to step aside from public life.

"Martin has lived out nearly all of his adult life in public, I hope he is now given the time and the opportunity in private to rest and regain his health."

Former First Minister Peter Robinson: "I pray that he overcomes his health challenges and has the time to do the simple things I know he loves - like spending time with his grandchildren, fishing and watching football."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long: "I want to extend my sincere best wishes to Martin McGuinness for the future and wish him improved health in his retirement. Whilst our politics are very different, I recognise the degree to which he stretched himself and his constituency over recent years in order to move the political process forward."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: "I know that Martin remains firmly committed to delivering a peaceful and prosperous society for all of the people of Northern Ireland.

"He was one of the key architects of the Good Friday Agreement, and a tireless and committed champion of the peace process."

Charlie Flanagan, Republic's Minister for Foreign Affairs: "The decision of Martin McGuinness not to contest the forthcoming election to the Northern Ireland Assembly will be received by many with an equal measure of understanding and disappointment.

"While those of us who have worked directly with Martin will wish him and his family well for the future, we will also miss his positive contribution to political discourse on this island."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin: "I would like on my own behalf, and on behalf of the Fianna Fail party, to extend our best wishes to Martin McGuinness on his retirement.

"Our hope that he is able to overcome what is a very serious health situation."

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