Monday 23 October 2017

Tributes across political divide to departing DUP leader Robinson

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson

Niall O'Connor and Mark O'Regan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he expected Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson to step down following his heart attack in May.

"I think this is an announcement that has been expected for some time," he said. "Peter is conscious of his health and he has pointed out to the Tánaiste and myself the difficulties and pressures of these kinds of jobs and the extent of the shortage of sleep he has had for a long time. I wish him well."

Martin McGuinness paid tribute to Robinson's contribution to the peace process, and revealed that he now counts his long-time political foe as a "friend".

The Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister at Stormont said his retiring counterpart deserves credit for his role in the peace process.

Collapse

In a widely expected announcement, Mr Robinson (66) said he would not contest next May's Assembly election and is likely to leave his post at the head of the power-sharing coalition in the coming weeks.

The move comes days after he signed a political deal with Sinn Féin and the British and Irish governments to avert the collapse of the administration.

Mr McGuinness said Mr Robinson had informed him of his intentions well before it was announced publicly.

"I have always given credit to Peter for recognising that the only way forward in this country was for us to work together," said the Sinn Féin veteran. "I think he was a very strong friend, like Ian Paisley, of the peace process."

Senator Máiría Cahill described him as a "respectful, courteous" man. "He should be given credit for moving the Democratic Unionist Party from a policy of 'never, never, never' to one under which, for the most part, his party has had a respectful relationship with the Nationalist community," she said.

Former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain also hailed Mr Robinson's contribution to the peace process.

"If Ian Paisley was the unionist pilot of the peace process then Peter Robinson was the unionist navigator, an indispensable part of the project that has established self-government and a permanent settlement between bitter old enemies," he said.

Irish Independent

Also in this section