Martin McGuinness will return to Stormont next week, having been unsuccessful in the Irish Presidential election.
The Mid Ulster MP yesterday congratulated the Labour Party’s Michael D Higgins on his election as the ninth President of Ireland, and extended his sincere thanks to all who supported and voted for him during the Presidential campaign.
“In the course of the past four weeks I have campaigned in every one of Ireland’s 32 counties,’ Mr McGuinness said. “Thousands of people have worked on my campaign and I wish to extend my thanks to each and every one of them. I also want to thank all of those who came out and voted for me yesterday.”
In congratulating Michael D, Mr McGuinness said: “He will make a fine President and I wish him well for his seven years in the Aras.”
“I am delighted with the strong vote I have received. My message of positive leadership, patriotism and commitment clearly was resonating with tens of thousands of ordinary Irish people. I believe that Irish people do want a new type of politics and a new Republic based upon equality and respect.”
Resuming his Deputy First Minister duties after an absence of six weeks, it is thought that Mr McGuinness and the Executive will get to work producing a programme of government.
SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has also congratulated Michael D. Higgins on becoming the next President of Ireland.
Mr Durkan, who has known Michael D. for decades, welcomed the former Culture Minister to Derry a fortnight ago where Mr Higgins voiced his opposition to dissident violence and offered his personal support to those who are building towards City of Culture 2013.
Mr Durkan said that Michael D’s “eloquence, compassion and integrity will make him an admirable President.”
“With his commitment to community and his grá (love) for cultural life he will bring a personable animation and special articulacy to his new national role,” he continued.
“Having known and admired Michael D. for more than 30 years I was delighted to greet him on his visit to Derry during the presidential campaign.
“It was impressive that he made the point of taking time out taking time out from canvassing in Donegal to come to personally affirm the importance and potential of the City of Culture after the recent bomb attack.
“I have every confidence that he will fulfil that promise as President and that he will also make us all proud,” Mr Durkan added.