Michelle O’Neill has now been named the new leader of Sinn Féin in the north.
“Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a thabhairt do Martin McGuinness.
“I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Martin McGuinness. He and I first met over 45 years ago behind the barricades in Free Derry and we have been friends and comrades since that time.
“I also want to thank Bernie and the entire McGuinness family for the support they have given to Martin over many years and for allowing him to become the leader, the patriot, the peacemaker and poet that he is.
“We were all shocked when we saw his appearance recently. Thank God he is looking a lot better since then and responding well to the treatment he is receiving. However, he does need to take time out to get better for himself, for his family and for our struggle.
“As we now know he won’t be standing in the Assembly election. That means we have to ensure that the election works for all of the people of the North and that we succeed in building on the progress that has been made since the Good Friday Agreement.
“Martin has said he wants to come back and be part of the process to end partition, build reconciliation, unite our people and achieve Irish unity. So on behalf of Sinn Féin and republicans everywhere I want to send him our best wishes. Give him the space to get better and increase our efforts so that when he returns the process of change has advanced.”
An interview with Martin McGuinness, following his announcement that he is not seeking re-election to the Assembly, can be found on Sinn Féin's website here.
Following Martin McGuinness' resignation as Deputy First Minister in the Assembly, Gerry Adams' wrote an article 'Stand up with Martin', which can be read on his Léargas blog here.