It will take a while to gather thoughts on the retirement of the estimable former deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness. Firstly, Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:
He played a key role in moving the republican movement towards a position of using peaceful and democratic means. I want to send him best wishes for his retirement.
We will all continue to work to make sure that the people of Northern Ireland are able to live freely and in peace.
Then An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny:
I know that Martin remains firmly committed to delivering a peaceful and prosperous society for all of the people of Northern Ireland.
He was one of the key architects of the Good Friday Agreement, and a tireless and committed champion of the Peace Process.
I have appreciated working closely with Martin in recent years, including in particular in the work of the North South Ministerial Council.
First Minister, Arlene Foster:
While the current political situation is not what any of us would wish and there is much work to be done to return stable government to Northern Ireland I nonetheless value the good things achieved by the outgoing Executive and the contribution made by Mr McGuinness to it.
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.
Despite all that has happened I wish Martin McGuinness a speedy recovery and that he and his wife are able to enjoy time with their family away from the relentless focus of public life.”
Colum Eastwood, SDLP leader:
Martin’s long journey began with a commitment to violence but it is important and telling that he found his true calling in politics.
He was the longest serving Minister in our Executive and there is no doubting his commitment to the institutions that were established under the Good Friday Agreement.
Perhaps most significantly, Martin McGuinness developed the ability to reach out beyond his own base and in recent years has acted generously to reach out the hand of friendship and reconciliation. That ability was best displayed in his relationships with Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson.
It was a rare gift and came as much from his personality as it did from his politics. Sinn Féin will miss him.
Mike Nesbitt, UUP leader:
There is no escaping that he has been a major influence over the ten years since the DUP decided to work with Sinn Fein 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.
Naomi Long, Alliance Party leader:
I recognise the degree to which he stretched himself and his constituency over recent years in order to move the political process forward. During that time he displayed significant moments of generosity, which were important in building relationships and securing the peace we enjoy.
Micheal Martin, Fianna Fail leader:
…during our time as education ministers we had a very positive and active working relationship which was absolutely focused on delivering for all communities. We also worked closely in the tortuous negotiations leading up to the devolution of Justice powers to Stormont.
We wish Martin McGuinness well and hope that those assuming leadership roles in Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland will learn from his example over the last ten years and renew the commitment to making these institutions work.
His positive comments when announcing his retirement this afternoon on the future of power sharing after this election confirm his political pragmatism.
Tonight, outside there are crowds of local people around his home in the Bogside in Derry who have shown up to thank him for his service. Whatever about his politics or his past he remains, amongst almost everyone who’s known him, even on a chance meeting, ‘well got’.