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The political world has been paying tribute to Peter Robinson

The Northern Irish First Minister and DUP leader announced his decision to retire before the next election this morning.

Peter Robinson Peter Robinson Source: PA WIRE

Updated 23.00

THE POLITICAL WORLD is paying tribute to Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson after the announcement that he is to step down from his post and as leader of the DUP before the next election.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that he “extends his best wishes” to Robinson.

“I wish to extend thanks and best wishes to Peter Robinson and his family and good luck for the future,” he said in a statement.

Sinn Féin and the DUP worked closely in recent months through a difficult negotiation to achieve Tuesday’s Stormont House Agreement.
Sinn Féin will continue to work with the DUP and Peter’s successor and with the other political parties as part of the effort to deliver on the recent agreement and to resolve outstanding issues from other agreements.

Robinson’s deputy Nigel Dodds said that Robinson had “dedicated his life to the defence of the union”.

Northern Irish secretary Theresa Villiers paid tribute to Robinson’s “distinguished record of public service.”

“Peter has been a central figure in Northern Ireland politics for over four decades,” she said in a statement.

He has championed the interests of Northern Ireland with unparalleled effectiveness, determination and dedication.
In my time as Secretary of State I have worked closely with Peter as we have sought to put power-sharing devolved government on a stable footing,

G8 Summit Theresa Villiers, pictured with Martin McGuinness, Enda Kenny, and Robinson in Enniskillen in June 2013 Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wished Robinson well in his upcoming retirement.

“As Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2008 to 2011 I worked closely with Peter, including the negotiations surrounding the devolution of policing and justice to the North,” he said in a statement.

I always found him to be a pragmatic and straightforward politician who was serious about moving Northern Ireland forward.  In his role as Deputy Leader to Ian Paisley and then as the Leader of his party and Northern Ireland’s First Minister, there is no doubt that he made a significant contribution to the journey that the island of Ireland has been on.  We wish him and his family well in his retirement.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said he was “very sad” to learn of Robinson’s intention to retire.

“From my own direct experience of working closely with Peter, I wish to acknowledge his leading role in bringing stability to the political institutions in Northern Ireland, which was most recently demonstrated in the ‘Fresh Start’ Agreement of which he was a key architect,” he said.

 I wish Peter, Iris and their family the very best for the future.

Royal visit to Northern Ireland - Day 1 Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness sit beside each other in St Patrick's Church, Belfast, in May 2015 Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Martin McGuinness meanwhile said that he “never hated Peter Robinson. I don’t think Peter Robinson hates me”.

I think we have developed a good working relationship over the years, albeit we come from different allegiances.

Earlier

The Northern Ireland First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party said in his resignation announcement this morning that there is a need to “renew political leadership”, and to bring in people with more energy and new ideas.

“For anyone who is not very young to go beyond two terms is stretching it,” he told the Belfast Telegraph, describing the “massive pressures” he faces in the job.

Robinson took up leadership of the party in 2008 from Ian Paisley.

Although conceding that he was advised by doctors to “avoid pressure and get more exercise” after a heart attack earlier this year, Robinson said he is not quitting for health reasons.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that it is likely he will step down before Christmas.

Speaking to reports this morning, Taoiseach Enda Kenny wished Robinson well, but said it was an announcement that has been expected for a long time.

He praised the DUP leader for his role in helping in ending the recent deadlock in Stormont.

“I wish him well in the future, and I hope that his health keeps up,” Kenny added.

Additional reporting Cianan Brennan

Originally published 11.03am

Read: A fresh start? There’s a new deal in town but nobody wants to talk about ‘the past’

Read: Eamon Gilmore reveals the government nearly collapsed THREE times

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