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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Politicians react to power-sharing
DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness have taken their pledge of office as devolution returns to Northern Ireland.

IAN PAISLEY, FIRST MINISTER

Ian Paisley
Mr Paisley said Northern Ireland was on the road to prosperity
I believe we're starting on a road which will bring us back to peace and to prosperity.

And I would challenge the people of Northern Ireland to rise to the challenge today and be determined that come what may, we'll make this a country when all men and women will be equal under the law and equally subject to the law.

MARTIN MCGUINNESS, DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER

We've already taken joint decisions, but that was in the context of not having power.

Martin McGuinness
Mr McGuinness said the assembly has the backing of all the people of Ireland

All of that is going to change in the next couple of hours, and by midday today, we're going to be in charge, and we're going to be charged with the responsibility of governing in the interests of the people.

I think we do so in the belief and the sure knowledge that we have the overwhelming support of all of the people of Ireland for what we're about to do.

PETER HAIN, NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY

NI Secretary Peter Hain
Mr Hain believes the DUP and Sinn Fein will make the assembly work

It's going to stick, I believe, because the DUP and Sinn Fein - Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness on the one hand, Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson on the other - these are the two most polarised forces in Northern Ireland's politics, they have done the deal and that's why I believe it's here to stay for good.

GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN PRESIDENT

I think what today proves is that dialogue and perseverance and tenacity and persistence can bring about results.

I want to thank everyone who contributed over a very long time in making this day possible.

It's a good day for Ireland, it's a good day for all of the people of this island.

TONY BLAIR, UK PRIME MINISTER

There are people who still think that the compromises that were made along the way were unacceptable.

"But sometimes politics is about that in order to achieve a better end -- and there are always two kinds of people in politics -- those who stand aside and commentate and those who get their hands dirty and do.

BERTIE AHERN, IRISH REPUBLIC PREMIER

This was not a process that promised quick or easy rewards. But he (Tony Blair) has been a true friend of peace, and a true friend of Ireland.

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern paid tribute to his British counterpart
And for that we express our heartfelt thanks. I thank him, not so much for the tea, not so much for the castles that I had the pleasure of spending so many times in, but for the true determination that he had, for just sticking with it.

For 10 tough years, he has spent more times dealing with the issues of the island of Ireland than any person ever could have asked any other person to do.

SIR REG EMPEY, ULSTER UNIONIST LEADER

The mission of the Ulster Unionist Party in the months and years ahead, as we rebuild and reform, is to demonstrate that unionism and politics in general is not about a sectarian power-grab.

MARK DURKAN, SDLP LEADER

What today shows is that when finally you have a government setting a deadline and setting terms and keeping to them, you can get somewhere. In the past, we had Sinn Fein being underwritten and they came up short on decommissioning continually.

We had the unionist leadership being underwritten and coming up short on the power sharing institutions.

It actually took people like the McCartney sisters to show governments how to set terms and hold terms in which the IRA had to move.

DAVID LIDINGTON, SHADOW NI SECRETARY

Devolution is an important milestone in the normalisation of politics in Northern Ireland.

An assembly in which local politicians take decisions on issues like schools or water charging provides the best hope of delivering a government that is accountable to the people of Northern Ireland.

It is now incumbent on all of Northern Ireland's parties to approach devolution in a spirit of co-operation. There can be no return to the politics of the past.

Today's development shows what can be achieved. We call on the remaining paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland to put their weapons verifiably beyond use and commit themselves to exclusively peaceful, lawful and democratic means.

EDWARD KENNEDY, US SENATOR

A brighter day has dawned for the people of Northern Ireland, and it would not have been possible without the commitment and determination by all of Northern Ireland's political leaders to find a new way forward.

Each of them is a profile in courage for our time and all time.

MARY MCALEESE, IRISH REPUBLIC PRESIDENT

It truly is an extraordinary day in the history of Northern Ireland, the island of Ireland and indeed of relations between Ireland and Britain.

Irish Republic President Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese said it was an extraordinary day
You carry the hopes of everybody as you take forward now the mandate you have been given by the people.

I know from what you have both said that you are determined to discharge that mandate to the full, in the interests of all the people.

GEORGE W BUSH, US PRESIDENT

I commend the Assembly for your dedication to Northern Ireland and I applaud the people of this region for your desire to overcome a history of violence and division.

I also appreciate Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, whose leadership and vision were essential in guiding the parties to reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

The United States will continue to support your efforts to further advance the peace process. Together we can build a more hopeful future for all.

SIR JOHN MAJOR, FORMER UK PRIME MINISTER

The sight of people that were once totally antagonistic to one another sitting down to plan the future of Northern Ireland is very attractive.

I always believed from the outset that it was possible but that it would be difficult and that it would take a long time.

All of those things turned out to be right.

DAVID FORD, ALLIANCE PARTY LEADER

We are here to make devolution work - now, the DUP and Sinn Fein must convince local people that they can work together. Much progress has been made but the real work only begins now.

Alliance leader David Ford
Alliance leader David Ford said the real work is only beginning
We have heard all the hype, we have seen all the photocalls, now it's time for Sinn Fein and the DUP to settle down and get on with the serious business of delivering better services for everyone and improving our local economy.

The Executive must prove that it is capable of providing the constructive government that the people of Northern Ireland want and deserve - we will certainly provide a strong and constructive opposition.

We need to create a genuinely shared future if we are to have a chance of making devolution work. A shared future must mean much more than the leaders of unionism and nationalism working in partnership, but at the same time presiding over a deeply divided community.

LORD TRIMBLE, FORMER UUP LEADER

I see it as being the culmination, the final implementation of the agreement that was made on Good Friday in 1998.

And it's that process that has now been brought to completion: brought to completion by parties that were ambiguous or hostile to the agreement at the time it was made.

By them now joining in the implementation of it, they do ensure in my view that these arrangements are now settled, are now fixed.




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