Ian Paisley's son thanks Martin McGuinness as he retires

The former First Minister’s son said that by his cooperative actions with the DUP McGuinness had doubtless “saved lives” and “made countless lives better”

Ian Paisley's son thanks Martin McGuinness as he retires

Ian Paisley Jr and Kate Hoey shelter from the rain at the Ulster Memorial Tower in Thiepval, France, ahead of a service to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the battle of the Somme. | Image: Niall Carson PA Archive/PA Images

Following tributes from political figures Enda Kenny, Míchael Martin and Theresa May, Ian Paisley Jr has wished Martin McGuinness well in his retirement,

Speaking on BBC’s The View, the DUP MP for North Antrim said he hoped Mr McGuinness "has time to enjoy his retirement with his wife and family".

"The second thing I want to say is ‘thank you’, and I think it’s important to reflect on the fact that we would not be where we are in Northern Ireland in terms of having stability, peace and the opportunity to rebuild our country if it hadn’t have been for the work that he put in, especially with my father, at the beginning of this long journey."

A 2001 file photo of Ian Paisley (left), with his son Ian Paisley Jr (centre) walking past Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein (second right), as they arrive at Belfast City Hall. | Image: PA Images

Currently, Mr Paisley Jr occupies his father's former seat in Westminster has previously shown himself to be one of the more vocal unionists.

Ian Paisley Snr and Mr McGuinness became renowned for the closeness of their relationship when acting as First Minister and Deputy First Minister between 2007 and 2008.

In commending Mr McGuinness, Mr Paisley Jr called for the groundwork of cooperation to be carried forward in Northern Ireland. 

"Everyone out there has gotten over it", he said.

"I think the sooner we do that that me saying thank you to someone I am diametrically opposed to that I can say thank you to them honestly and humbly and recognise that the remarkable journey that Martin McGuinness went on has not only saved lives, but has also made the lives of countless people better in Northern Ireland because of the partnership government that we worked in and put together, and I think it’s incredibly important and it’s important that I say it."

Mr McGuinness told supporters yesterday that he is "heartbroken" not to be contesting the snap election due to take place on March 2nd