Retiring MLA for Foyle, Mr Pat Ramsey, SDLP, says he has been deeply moved by the countless messages of support he has received following his decision to retire from politics.
Mr Ramsey, who made the decision to bring the curtain down on his political career due to health considerations, said: “The outpouring of well wishes has been simply staggering. It has been a fantastic tonic and for that, I can only say thanks to everyone who has been in contact since I made my announcement.
“The farewell comments in the chamber of the NI Assembly were particularly touching on Monday and Tuesday.
“Reading the messages of support on social media has been really emotional. I never once expected this reaction, it is humbling. Especially to hear members of the local community comment but the commendatory messages from across the political divide, some from those who I had serious differences of opinion throughout my time as MLA, were very moving.”
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said “Pat Ramsey represents everything that is good and decent about local politics. Over 30 years in politics and 20 more in community work, Pat has demonstrated himself to be an honest and dedicated public representative.”
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: Pat brings a dogged energy to his work, along with a deep empathy for people whose rights and interests he is championing. It is a mark of the fortitude he has shown in such active and personal commitment to public life that his condition and prospective treatment have now forced him to step back.
Regional operations Manager of Mencap, Barry McMenamin perhaps put it best when he tweeted: “Pat Ramsey retirement counteracts the premise that ‘all political careers end in failure’ a stalwart, champion of the disabled, gentleman.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted: “Best wishes for the future to Pat Ramsey & his family as he retires from the Assembly.”
Unionist MLAs Joanne Dobson sent messages of support, suggesting: “Sorry to hear you are stepping down Pat - An advocate for so many cause not least as Vice Chair of the Organ Donation APG.”
UUP MLA Peter Weir added: “Worked with Pat Ramsey as a fellow Chief Whip and Commission. Fought his corner with reasonableness and reasoned argument. A true gentleman.”
Robin Swann of the UUP and chair of the Employment and Learning Committee on which Mr Ramsey served, stated: “sorry to see you go from one Chief Whip to another and yout input into Employment and learning on disability and special needs issues were invaluable.”
Alliance Party’s Chris Lyttle said: “Gentleman and dedicated elected representative. Pleasure to work with you.”
DUPs Paul Given paid tribute also describing Mr Ramsey as: “a gentleman I worked closely with on the All Party Human Life Group. A conviction (sic) politician that will be a loss to Assembly.
UTV heavyweight Ked Reid agreed telling his followers: “SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey is to retire at the end of the month. A gentleman.”
Community groups from Mr. Ramsey’s Foyle constituency were also full of praise Echo Echo Dance Company said: “Very best wishes to Pat Ramsey MLA and thanks for your continued support and advocacy of the arts and past work on NIACAL Committee.”
Diabetes UK added: “Best wishes on your retirement. Thanks for all your work in raising awareness & improving lives of people with diabetes.”
However Twitter user @danmc2 summed up the feeling of the Foyle constituency with the short message: “You’ll be missed.”