Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 17:16 UK

Reaction as Paisley stands down

Below is reaction from the Northern Ireland Assembly as Ian Paisley stepped down from his position as first minister.

DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY LEADER PETER ROBINSON

At the outset, I wish to express my thankfulness, admiration, high regard and respect to the great Ulsterman who I have the honour to succeed.

He has been a leader without equal. His contribution has been immeasurable and no man laboured more faithfully than he to secure the political agreement that now shapes the future.

He has laid the foundation for this new era, and now it is up to the rest of us to build upon it.

SINN FEIN PRESIDENT GERRY ADAMS

He is living proof of why a politician should never say never - or never, never, never.

Today I want to commend Ian Paisley. Today is a day to praise Caesar, not to bury him.

I want to thank Ian Paisley for the way he fulilled his role as first minister alongside Martin McGuinness. He certainly had a lot to put up with. I want to commend Martin McGuinness who also had a lot to put up with.

Throughout all our engagements I found Ian Paisley to be cordial and respectful.

I wish Dr Paisley well. I also want to extend my best wishes to his wife Eileen and to all their family.

ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY DEPUTY LEADER DANNY KENNEDY

On this day, and laying aside political differences, we acknowledge his contribution to politics in Northern Ireland and take this opportunity to wish him well on a personal basis as he reaches his retirement from political office in this assembly.

It surely is the case, we shall not see his like again.

I have no doubt that Dr Paisley will continue to contribute to the affairs of this House but we would extend to him and to Baroness Paisley the genuine wish of a long and happy retirement with time to enjoy other aspects of his life with his family away from the cut and thrust of politics.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC AND LABOUR PARTY ASSEMBLY MEMBER DECLAN O'LOAN

In these past 14 months, he has done the right things, indeed the only things that could create a society here that would be at peace.

Those things involved the elements of partnership government and North-South co-operation that this party has always stood for.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that Ian Paisley stood resolutely against those things for all those long years. But today, I recognise him for what he did in the end.

I and my party wish him, along with his wife, Baroness Paisley, and their family, well for the future.

ALLIANCE PARTY LEADER DAVID FORD

As he steps down from the office of first minister today, it is right to recognise that Ian Paisley did finally agree to take part in the current arrangements for the formation of an executive.

I suspect that his act of taking office will be seen as more significant than anything that was actually achieved by that executive over the last year.

On behalf of my colleagues, I wish the former minister and his wife a happy retirement from politics with their family.

PROGRESSIVE UNIONIST PARTY LEADER DAWN PURVIS

He has offered a new hope, I think, a role model in joining with Sinn Fein in government and showing our community that there is a new way forward.

I wish him well and his family well for the future.





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