Belfast Telegraph

McGuinness praise for Paisley role

Ian Paisley's one-time IRA foe turned partner in government has described him as a friend.

Martin McGuinness once commanded the IRA in his native Londonderry and faced implacable opposition from the man at times dubbed Dr No whose best known phrase was "never, never, never".

However Dr Paisley eventually said yes - to sharing power with Sinn Fein at Stormont in 2007 and ushering in what some characterised as a new era for Northern Ireland. The DUP leader became first minister with Mr McGuinness as his deputy.

Mr McGuinness said: "In the brief period that we worked together in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) I developed a close working relationship with him which developed into a friendship, which despite our many differences lasted beyond his term in office."

Their bonhomie was evident at the many public functions which they attended together, leading to them being dubbed the "chuckle brothers" by some.

Mr McGuinness added: "I learned with deep regret and sadness of the death of former First Minister the Rev. Dr Ian Paisley.

"Over a number of decades we were political opponents and held very different views on many, many issues but the one thing we were absolutely united on was the principle that our people were better able to govern themselves than any British government.

"I want to pay tribute to and comment on the work he did in the latter days of his political life in building agreement and leading unionism into a new accommodation with republicans and nationalists."

Dr Paisley's party colleague Gregory Campbell has explained his position as rejecting a bad deal in 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed and accepting a good one which restored powersharing in 2007.

After he took his pledge of office in May 2007 Dr Paisley said: "I believe that Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace, a time when hate will no longer rule.

"How good it will be to be part of a wonderful healing in our province.

"Today we have begun to plant and we await the harvest."

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