Peter Robinson: Not just a colleague but a friend

Peter Robinson said the plaudits from MLAs was like listening to his obituary
Peter Robinson said the plaudits from MLAs was like listening to his obituary

I have known Peter for more than forty years.

For a large part of that time we were both elected representatives in the same area.

We just weren’t colleagues. We were friends.

Throughout those years he has shown a complete focus on and dedication to the people he represents. His long career in East Belfast was one of hard work and securing the best outcomes for the area.

More latterly, as a government minister, I worked alongside him in the Northern Ireland Executive.

His capacity for getting to grips with difficult and detailed issues was immense and unrivalled.

During nearly eight years as the First Minister he has dealt with a wide range of difficult matters that might have bested other politicians.

Peter always thinks long-term and he can be proud that he presided over the longest period of unbroken devolution since the start of the Troubles and as he leaves front-line politics he can also take pride in knowing that he has built the basis upon which devolution can continue in Northern Ireland.

Peter has been with us from the early days. He travelled the length and breadth of country building the structures of the party.

As he retires he can do so with pride.

He led the party to its most successful ever Assembly election.

Whilst he is stepping back from the leader’s job, I know his advice and wisdom will always be welcomed.

Sammy Wilson, DUP MP East Antrim