Belfast Telegraph

Peter Robinson and Ed Miliband lead tributes to former Northern Ireland minister Paul Goggins who has died

Former Northern Ireland minister Paul Goggins has been hailed for helping to solidify peace in Northern Ireland, as politicians from both sides of the region's traditional divide paid tribute to the late Labour MP.

Mr Goggins had been described by local representatives as a gentleman respected by all who knew him.

Leader of the SDLP, Dr Alasdair McDonnell said the former direct rule minister for justice was a politician of outstanding ability.

The 60-year-old MP, who died last night just over a week after collapsing while jogging with his son, was involved in the crunch negotiations that led to the devolution of justice powers from Westminster back to Stormont in 2010.

"As an NIO minister he made a huge contribution to solidifying the peace process in Northern Ireland and we owe him a great debt of gratitude for all of his work," South Belfast MP Dr McDonnell said.

"I had the privilege of knowing Paul as a colleague, a wise counsellor and a friend.

"Aside from his outstanding ability as a minister in Northern Ireland, everyone who knew him will attest to his tremendous personal humility and deep compassion for those on the margins of society.

"A man of great faith, his first concern was always for the vulnerable."

Democratic Unionist deputy leader Nigel Dodds said he was "truly saddened" by the Wythenshawe and Sale East MP's death.

"Paul was a gentleman who was not only respected but also liked by those whom he came into contact with," the North Belfast MP said.

"During his time as a minister, and after, Paul was a friend to Northern Ireland and I know that like colleagues, I found him to be genuinely interested in doing the best for the province.

"Paul's loss will most deeply felt by his family, but it is also a great loss to his Party and to Parliament as a whole."

Deputy leader of the cross-community Alliance party and East Belfast MP, Naomi Long, said: "He was a true gentleman who had a heart for and interest in Northern Ireland that outlasted his time as Minister of State.

"He served the public in Northern Ireland and in his constituency with integrity and grace.

"He is a huge loss and will be genuinely missed by those of us who knew him personally and many more who never had that privilege, but benefited from his work and commitment.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time."

The Orange Order also paid tribute to Mr Goggins.

Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, said: "The (Orange) Institution worked closely with Mr Goggins during his tenure as Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office and always found him to be one of the most constructive and understanding elected representatives to work with.

"Paul was a very hard-working minister and a man of great integrity, who was 100% committed to doing his best for all the people of Northern Ireland.

"His death is a grave loss to British politics in general and to Northern Ireland politics in particular.

"On behalf of the Orange Institution, our sympathy and condolences go to Paul's family at this deeply traumatic time."

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