Wales politics

Rhodri Morgan: Tributes paid to 'a real father figure'

Rhodri Morgan Image copyright Wales news service

Former first minister Rhodri Morgan has died at the age of 77. Here are a selection of the tributes paid to him from the world of politics and other areas of Welsh life.

Carwyn Jones, his successor as first minister

"Wales hasn't just lost a great politician, we've lost a real father figure.

"In very many ways Rhodri wasn't like other politicians, and that is why people warmed to him, trusted him and felt like they knew him so well.

"He was funny, clever, engaging on almost any topic and absolutely passionate about all things Welsh.

"I owe him a great deal, just as we all do in Wales."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tony Blair says Rhodri Morgan led the assembly with "enormous skill and dedication"

Tony Blair, former Labour prime minister

"Rhodri was an outstanding servant of Wales, the United Kingdom and the Labour Party.

"He was great company, a fund of marvellous stories and a shrewd and immensely capable politician.

"We spent many times together in opposition and in Government.

"He took over the Welsh assembly leadership at a difficult moment and led it with enormous skill and dedication."

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader

"We've lost a good friend, a great man and, above all, a giant of the Welsh labour movement.

"Rhodri was an incredibly effective first minister for Wales. He stood up for Wales, its people's future and its public services.

"So much was achieved in his nearly 10 years in post, making a real success of devolution and laying the foundations for what the Welsh government is accomplishing today."

Alun Cairns, Welsh Secretary, Conservative

"Rhodri Morgan was a great servant to Wales and Welsh democracy. He was a passionate and committed Welshman who played an important role as devolution developed.

"My enduring memories are of some of the most disarming and humorous one-liners he would use to advance his argument that turned many a debate.

"Rhodri Morgan will be remembered as a principled man and his wit and passion will not be forgotten in Wales."

Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru leader

"Rhodri Morgan was much respected across the political spectrum and led Wales with distinction during a crucial period in Welsh history."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ieuan Wyn Jones served under Rhodri Morgan in a Labour/Plaid coalition from 2007 to 2009

Ieuan Wyn Jones, former Plaid Cymru leader and deputy first minister

"He was very easy to work with, and he was very likeable, extremely loyal and highly knowledgeable.

"It wasn't easy for him to deliver the coalition in sections of his party, but Rhodri stood firm and we agreed a very progressive programme of government."

Elin Jones, presiding officer of the Welsh Assembly

"As first minister of Wales, Rhodri's contribution in helping build our nation and its young democracy was immeasurable.

"His popularity among the people of Wales and his determination to anchor the institution firmly in the national psyche accelerated the acceptance of devolution and nurtured pride in our new institution.

"Rhodri's ability to communicate with, and to understand, the diverse communities of Wales ultimately won hearts and minds, and was critical in giving the people of Wales the confidence to strengthen and develop the National Assembly.

"We will always be grateful to Rhodri Morgan for his leadership and he will be remembered as a giant of Welsh politics."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Rhodri Morgan leaves the Senedd chamber as he steps down as an AM in 2011

Lord German, former Welsh Liberal Democrat leader and deputy first minister

"Wales has lost a great politician and stalwart. He has a huge place in Welsh devolution. A strong opponent but a great friend."

Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Conservative leader

"Rhodri Morgan was a giant of devolved politics in Wales who served a hugely important role in stabilising the National Assembly during its formative years.

"As first minister, his answers in the chamber were always worthy of attention and his encyclopaedic knowledge across his brief ensured he was rarely wrong-footed.

"Our first meeting was not in the political arena but came after Rhodri was forced to barricade his garden late on an autumn Sunday evening after some of my cattle had misbehaved and wandered into the Morgans' - he was undoubtedly one of life's true characters.

"And while politically we didn't see eye to eye, there is no question that he was held in high regard right across the political spectrum and he will be missed by all who knew him."

Catriona Williams, chief executive, Children in Wales

"As well as being a political leader who had a vision for Wales, Rhodri's contribution to improving the lives of children and young people, especially those who were vulnerable or excluded, was unique.

"He supported our representations for the integration of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Welsh policies and legislation, as well as the campaign for the creation of the first Children's Commissioner in the UK.

"However and most importantly, he also reached out as a caring human being, especially to young people in and around the care system and they found him easy to talk to and knew him, as did many in Wales, as 'Rhodri'."

Swansea University

Image copyright Swansea University
Image caption Rhodri Morgan presents an honorary degree to rugby star Shane Williams

Vice-chancellor Prof Richard B. Davies said Mr Morgan "embraced the role of chancellor wholeheartedly" when he took up the role in 2011.

"Many events were enlivened by his insightful, entertaining, and often challenging contributions," he said.

"He was also active as an ambassador for the University in Wales, and overseas he helped promote research collaboration and student exchange programmes.

"He had an infectious enthusiasm for life and education."

Farmers' Union of Wales

Mr Morgan had "always been a friend to this union," according to its president Glyn Roberts.

"He understood the challenges farmers here in Wales face and we worked closely with him, most notably during the foot-and-mouth crisis," he said.

"I can only describe him as an ambassador for Wales, a visionary for devolution and someone who had our rural Welsh communities and family farms close to his heart and cared deeply for them.

"He will be missed by many."

David Hughes, head of the European Commission Office in Wales

"Mr Morgan was truly a giant of Welsh politics. He was also, from 1980-1987, the head of the European Commission Office in Wales, something we remain very proud of.

"Even after retirement as first minister, he remained a regular guest at events we held and a speaker of wit and distinction, with a profound understanding of European affairs. He will be sorely missed."

The Church in Wales

"We are particularly grateful for his commitment to interfaith relations.

"He set up the Faith Communities Forum in response to 9/11 and that has been pivotal in nurturing today's strong relationships both between Wales' diverse faiths and between those faiths and the Welsh Government.

"Rhodri's politics were driven by his principles, and his principles were informed by his deep concern for the welfare of ordinary Welsh people.

"All this was seasoned by his sense of humour and his total lack of pretension."

Cardiff Blues rugby region

Image copyright Cardiff Blues
Image caption Rhodri Morgan - pictured with Cardiff and Wales rugby hero Dai Young - was a keen sports fan

The club said it was "deeply saddened" to hear of the sudden death of Mr Morgan, a "long-standing supporter of rugby in Cardiff".

"Rhodri was not just a giant of politics but a champion of all things Wales, and in particular sport," said Blues chief executive Richard Holland.

"He was a passionate supporter of Cardiff Blues and a regular on the terraces of Cardiff Arms Park.

"He will be sorely missed."

Colin Jackson, former world and Commonwealth hurdles champion

"So sad hearing that Rhodri Morgan has died. I have so many fond memories of him. He encouraged me to be an athlete. Bless you Rhodri R.I.P"

Team Wales - Commonwealth Games

"Rhodri Morgan; what a huge loss. A lover of sport, a great fan of the Commonwealth Games and a fervently passionate supporter of Team Wales."

Riverside farmers' market, Cardiff

Image caption Rhodri Morgan was a familiar figure at the scene of community activities in Cardiff

"Very sad news re the passing of Rhodri Morgan. A true friend and supporter of the markets, always happy to engage with people."

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