Peter Robinson has defied hardline unionist critics to jointly receive a peace award with Martin McGuinness in Dublin.
The award to the First and Deputy First Ministers was presented at a gala dinner last night by the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.
The two men have stressed they accepted it on behalf of the Northern Ireland community rather than themselves.
In his speech at the event last night, Mr Robinson described the award as a “reflection of the scale of what has been achieved in Northern Ireland”.
He added: “It is all too easy to forget how far we have come and the many sacrifices that have been made by those who served our community and the many innocent people who suffered in the dark decades we have come through.”
The DUP First Minister paid tribute to those who had “persevered for peace” and said he was accepting the award “in their honour and in their memory”.
Mr Robinson has come under repeated fire from Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister for accepting the joint accolade with the senior Sinn Fein politician.
Criticism has also been voiced over the fact that the event in Dublin was held on Remembrance Day.
Confirming their plans to attend last night's event, the Office for the First Minister and Deputy
First Minister said: “Neither Minister is accepting the award on their own behalf but rather in recognition of a community that has overcome conflict and division.
“The First and Deputy First Ministers have now presided over the longest period of uninterrupted operation of the devolved institutions. They are determined to continue working in the best interests of the whole community.”
Jim Allister went on the attack again last night, recalling that Mr Robinson once dubbed Mr McGuinness the “Bogside Butcher”.
The TUV leader also said: “Irrespective of what he says at the event, Peter Robinson knows in his heart that he should not on this Remembrance Day be standing alongside the First Minister of Terror to see him sanitised as a ‘man of peace’.”