Stormont pays tribute to Martin McGuinness

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Personalities matter in peace-making and Martin's good nature and his good humour were essential ingredients in copper-fastening a new dispensation of co-operation in Northern Ireland.

Former prime minister, Tony Blair, who worked with McGuinness on securing peace in the region, described him as a "formidable foe" during the armed struggle and a "formidable peacemaker" later.

He had been suffering with a rare heart condition, his funeral will take place on Thursday at 13:20 GMT, this will be ahead of a Requiem Mass at St Columba's Church Longtower at 14:00.

"For the Sinn Fein MLAs in this chamber and for the Irish republican family across this island and beyond he was our leader, he was our inspiration, our role model and he was, above all else, our dear and valued friend", she said.

"First and foremost, Martin McGuinness was a much loved husband, father and grandfather. I will remember him therefore with vast gratitude for the part he played in the peace process and with genuine affection for the man I came to know and admire for his contribution to peace".

And yet, five years ago, there was Martin McGuinness shaking hands with the queen at a charity event in Belfast, offering the strongest symbolic evidence yet that the British and the Irish had put their tortured past behind them.

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Tributes have also been paid to Mr McGuinness from all sides here, while he has also been remembered as a force for change in the peace process. His efforts were considered central in bringing about the end to the almost daily acts of violence carried out by the IRA.

The silenced guns gave the IRA's public face, the Sinn Fein party, access to all-party talks on Northern Ireland's future for the first time.

"It is precisely because of his past, because of his involvement with the IRA in the 70s and 80s because of his influence within those circles that he was able to play the role he played in bringing the republican movement towards using peaceful and democratic means and because of all of that I doubt we will ever see his like again", she said.

"She [The Queen] knows my history". A key reason for his self-restraint was to build support for Sinn Fein in the Irish Republic, where he stood unsuccessfully for the President's post in 2011, coming last in a three-horse race. It has even been claimed that he became a British agent, although those pushing the allegation have largely been former IRA members opposed to the settlement in Northern Ireland. "She knows I was in conflict with her soldiers, yet both of us were prepared to rise above all of that". When he enquired about Her Majesty's health, she quipped: "Well, I'm still alive".

In nearly 10 years as Deputy First Minister, McGuinness's energy was devoted to keeping the show on the road and proving that Sinn Fein could make the new devolved institutions work.

Mr Tebbit survived the 1984 Brighton bombing which targeted the Conservative party conference, but his wife Margaret was left paralysed.

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