Northern Ireland

McGuinness stands down: Political reaction

Martin McGuinness
Image caption Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has confirmed he will not stand for election

Politicians have been reacting to the news that Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will not stand in the Assembly election.

He quit as deputy first minister earlier this month in a row over a botched green energy scheme, sparking an election on 2 March.

Image caption Mrs Foster said she was determined to work with him for the "betterment of all the people of Northern Ireland"

DUP former first minister Arlene Foster

"Martin McGuinness and I have had our political differences and we come from very different angles of vision.

When I was elected as first minister in January 2016, I indicated that I was determined to work alongside him for the betterment of all the people of Northern Ireland in order to build a better future for everyone.

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."

Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey

"He is a close personal friends and comrade - tirelessly committed.

"He is a man of tremendous leadership qualities and has done a lot in recent years to build reconciliation. Although that isn't always reciprocated, a lot of people have respected what he has done as a republican leader."

Prime Minister Theresa May

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

"Martin McGuinness served the people of Northern Ireland as deputy first minister for nearly a decade.

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

Former first minister Peter Robinson

"Martin will discover, as I have, that there is much to rejoice in having more time with family and less stress with the removal of the responsibilities of office.

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

"We came from polar opposite backgrounds, but built up a relationship based on doing the best we could for all our people. We shared the hardships of taking risks for progress and the joy of seeing so many improvements in the lives of our fellow citizens."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Former First Minister Peter Robinson said he and Martin McGuinness shared the hardships of taking risks for progress

Taoiseach (Irish President) Enda Kenny

"While Martin and I may not always have seen eye-to-eye on every issue, I readily acknowledge the remarkable political journey that he has undertaken.

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

Image copyright RTE
Image caption The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny wished Mr McGuinness and his family well

Alliance Leader, Naomi Long

"It's particularly sad that he's stepping aside at a time when the institutions, that he invested so much in, are in such a precarious situation.

"I wish him good health, and I hope he recovers and can enjoy his retirement, but I also want to thank him for those acts of generosity he displayed, that were able to build the peace process.

"I hope the next generation of people coming through will be able to return that generosity of spirit that we saw between him and Ian Paisley - we need it now."

Former prime minister Tony Blair

"I am sorry that Martin McGuinness is standing down. Martin showed character and courage when he became part of the historic effort to create peace in Northern Ireland.

"I will never forget the intensity or the emotional strain of those meetings we had together over several years.

Image caption Tony Blair said Mr McGuinness showed "great character and courage" in politics

"He never stopped believing in his cause. But he never ceased in his determination to find a way to escape the bonds of history and to try, in the interests of all the people of Ireland, to find a way to the future.

"I thank him for his service and for his leadership. I wish him well and his family to whom he is so devoted."

Rev Harold Good, former Methodist Church president

"We would not be where we are in the peace process, were it not for what Martin McGuinness has brought. He has sought to understand where others are coming from."

He was able to bring the republican movement to a new place - he went on a journey himself and brought others along with him and that is so significant".

Secretary of State James Brokenshire

"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," he said.

Image caption Secretary of State James Brokenshire released a statement thanking Martin McGuinness

Pat Hume, wife of former SDLP leader John Hume

"John and I would like to thank Martin for his immense hard work and for the courtesy and skill he has shown over the past 10 years.

"In particular for his generosity and leadership in reaching beyond boundaries."

Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane

"Martin McGuinness is a legend. Proud to have worked with him- all the best to Bernie and family."

Image copyright Twitter

McGuinness stands down: Political reaction

UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt

"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 Féin in Stormont Castle.

His decision to take up arms in the IRA and terrorise the people of Northern Ireland has left a legacy we are still struggling to come to terms with.

"That said he is clearly unwell and I wish for him and his family what I would wish for myself and mine."

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

"Martin and I come from very different, and indeed mutually critical, political traditions.

Yet, in the two and a half years that I worked directly with Martin, I experienced a political leader who was determined to make the future of Northern Ireland, and its people, so much better than its past.

I hope that Martin's political legacy will encourage all of Northern Ireland's political parties to emulate his efforts to consolidate partnership government.

Image caption Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams posted on social media "three of us in the car crying over Martin McGuinness," as well as re-tweeting praise and well wishes from other Twitter users.

Image copyright Twitter

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood

"We are all thinking of him. I have always found Martin to be respectful to me and warm. Of course we have political differences but I am very worried about him, in terms of his health".

I always thought he could speak beyond and act beyond his own electoral base".

Green Party NI leader Steven Agnew

"Martin McGuinness will be a loss to the Assembly. He will be remembered as a key player in the peace process and advocate for the devolved institutions.

"It is difficult to overlook the violent path that Martin McGuinness once took. However, he came to realise the ills of violence in pursuit of constitutional change. That realisation helped Northern Ireland to come to a better place.

TUV Leader Jim Allister

Mr Allister simply posted on social media that "unlike his IRA's many victims Martin McGuinness got to see retirement."

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Jim Allister posted this on social media on Thursday

DUP MP Gregory Campbell

"It is important a balanced view is shown - there was the first part of his journey, which was a bloody and horrendous journey and there was the latter, where he devoted his time and energy to politics.

"The regret is he didn't engage much earlier in the peaceful path."

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Question Time Extra Time, presenter Stephen Nolan asked him what he would say to Martin McGuiness.

"If I saw him tonight, I would ask if he would re-consider his comments that he has no regrets," Mr Campbell answered.

Image caption Mr Campbell acknowledged Martin McGuinness's role in the peace process but said 'the regret is he didn't engage much earlier in the peaceful path'

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