Cowen: Most important thing to learn from McGuinness' career is spirit of Good Friday Agreement

The former Taoiseach was speaking on Newstalk Drive this evening

Cowen: Most important thing to learn from McGuinness' career is spirit of Good Friday Agreement

Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen has paid tribute to the late Martin McGuinness on Newstalk Drive this evening, calling him "a guy I could get on with him".

While acknowledging that there are people "who will find it hard to change their judgement" on McGuinness' IRA involvement, Cowen remembered him as man with a good sense of humour who was "clear in what he was doing and what he wanted to achieve.

"He was a guy who could reach out and come to conclusions about things," he said.

Referring to the discussions preceding the Good Friday Agreement, he said McGuiness was "a tough negotiator" who knew they had to get to an agreed position,

"There's a need for everyone to incorporate the spirit of the agreement," he continued. "The spirit of the agreement is showing generosity and that there has to be white smoke for everybody."

'The Chuckle Brothers'

On developing his relationship with loyalist politician and Protestant religious leader Rev Ian Paisley, Cowen said: "What they were trying to do was transform the situation - get rid of the stereotype they both had of each other.

"In post-conflict politics, you need to be far more ambitious and be willing to be prepared to move to a new political space."

He also said the nickname often given to the pair - The Chuckle Brothers - was an attempt by a minority to cause "disunity within the DUP.

Arlene Foster

The former Taoiseach wouldn't comment on whether he thought UP leader Arlene Foster should attend McGuinness' funeral, but said he was "glad to hear" that Foster had been in touch with his family in recent weeks.