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Peter Robinson: No other republican could have done what Martin McGuinness did

By Jonny Bell

Former DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson has paid tribute to Martin McGuinness following his passing saying he will be greatly missed in the uncertain times ahead in Northern Ireland politics.

The 66-year-old's death was announced on Tuesday morning. Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams described him as a 'passionate republican, dedicated to peace'.

Peter Robinson said he and the former deputy First Minister had the "best of personal relationships" and kept in contact after his own retirement and through the Derry man's recent illness prior to his death.

Mr Robinson said: "Martin’s life like the politics of Northern Ireland was multifaceted.  The immediate reaction to his passing has ranged from expressions of hurt from the victims of the IRA’s campaign to the grief of those who were closest to him and his political outlook. 

"Others have found his later years as a deal-maker and Minister truly historic and deserving of merit.  All these views are valid and form part of his life and legacy. 

"Martin never sought to airbrush any part of his life.  But most important today is that behind this very public figure was a very private family man.  He loved his family dearly and loved to be with them. 

"To Bernie, the family and his many friends I express my condolences and trust that God may comfort them in their hour of sorrow."

Currently the Northern Ireland political parties are locked in talks aimed at restoring the devolved institutions.

The former MP and MLA added: "Martin and I worked together for seven years as First and deputy First Minister.  We came together in that office after the heady euphoria of reaching agreement had faded. 

"The honeymoon was over and we had to work the hard yards of operating the system in a manner that would instil confidence and bring delivery. 

"The business of governing a divided society and coping with the endless curved balls that politics here brings tested both of us. Yet while I knew his past, as he knew mine, we never doubted or gave up our shared commitment to create a new and better era in Northern Ireland politics.  We had the best of personal relationships – keeping in touch even after my retirement and during his illness.

"I do not believe that any other republican could have performed the role he did during this transition.  In the difficult days, we presently face, his influence will be greatly missed.”

More:

Martin McGuinness' funeral details announced following death

Watch: Martin McGuinness in emotional final interview before his death

Northern Ireland Assembly recalled to mark Martin McGuinness' death

David Trimble's last letter to Martin McGuinness: Many would feel 'greater optimism' if you were at the helm in current political crisis 

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