Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was among the first to wish Peter Robinson well in retirement after the Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader announced he would be stepping down.
He said: “Good luck to him and his clan.”
Once implacable foes, the two were central to the landmark deal that saw a previously unthinkable coalition of Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists assume the reins of power at Stormont in 2006.
Mr Adams claimed Sinn Fein had known of the DUP leader’s plans for some time.
“He had confided in Martin (McGuinness),” added Mr Adams.
“We didn’t know of course when he was going to do it.
“The conference, he had suggested was a bit of a catalyst for the talks and he wanted to leave on a good day.”
Although Mr Adams rejected assertions of a frosty relationship between Sinn Fein and Mr Robinson, he stopped short of saying he would miss him.
“I said the same thing about Ian Paisley, once he made the decision he was always very warm towards me, quite funny, respectful and I have to say in terms of working with Peter Robinson that it has been the same.”
Former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain, who was recently made a peer, hailed Mr Robinson’s contribution to the peace process.
“If Ian Paisley was the unionist pilot of the peace process then Peter Robinson was the unionist navigator, an indispensable part of the project that has established self-government and a permanent settlement between bitter old enemies,” said the former Labour minister.
“He will stand tall because of that and because of his leadership as First Minister.”