President Higgins leads tributes to Martin McGuinness

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire.

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny led tributes from politicians across Ireland last night saying Martin McGuinness "strove to make Northern Ireland a better place for everyone".

The Fine Gael leader praised the Sinn Féin politician's efforts towards peace.

"His commitment to securing enduring peace and prosperity for all of the people of Northern Ireland was unwavering throughout this time," he said.

"He strove to make Northern Ireland a better place for everyone, regardless of background or tradition."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long discusses Martin McGuinness's legacy

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin reflected on the period following the restoration of devolution in 1999, when he and Mr McGuinness each held the posts of ministers of education in the north and south.

"He had a clear commitment to the disadvantaged and saw the pivotal role education can play in providing equality of opportunity," he said.

President Michael D Higgins also paid tribute saying the the world of politics miss the leadership he gave.

"The world of politics and the people across this island will miss the leadership he gave, shown most clearly during the difficult times of the peace process, and his commitment to the values of genuine democracy that he demonstrated in the development of the institutions in Northern Ireland," he said.

Vigils were held last night on both sides of the border in memory of Mr McGuinness including his home town of Derry.

SDLP leader and fellow Derry man Colum Eastwood said it was appropriate to recognise his "remarkable" journey.

"The generosity that he displayed in developing relationships with Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson demonstrated a rare gift that came as much from his personality as his politics.

"It is that gift which is needed in our politics at this moment."

Former SDLP leader John Hume and his wife Pat passed on their condolences.

"Martin McGuinness left an indelible print on politics in Ireland," they said in a joint statement.

"Our starting points on the approach to finding a solution to the divisions on this island were very different but there can be no doubt Martin was deeply committed to the agreed Ireland of the Good Friday Agreement and its powersharing institutions.

"He played a very important role in our peace process and his courageous, generous and gracious gestures as deputy first minister were offered in a spirit of reconciliation and peace building."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said while her politics differed from Mr McGuinness’s, "the compromises he made, the leadership he demonstrated and his willingness to work with others despite those differences as part of the peace process helped secure the peace we all now enjoy."

"For that, we are grateful and our best tribute to him would be to do all in our power to secure that peace and progress for future generations," she added.

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