Tributes paid to Prince Philip in special Stormont Assembly sitting

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By Q Radio News

MLAs have been reflecting on the life of Prince Philip following his death on Friday.

The Assembly will adjourn for the day after the sitting as a mark of respect to the duke.

Sinn Fein Speaker Alex Maskey began the special sitting in the Assembly by saying it's “impossible to do justice to such a full and long life in just a few words”.

He also paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh’s commitment to young people and his passion for reconciliation here:

First Minister Arlene Foster.

First Minister Arlene Foster’s described the Duke of Edinburgh as a “true intergenerational legacy to our youth, our United Kingdom and the world’s environment”.

The DUP leader noted the impact of the loss of the duke’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was killed in an IRA bomb in 1979, on Philip, and paid tribute to his service in the Second World War.

Mrs Foster also welcomed the “respectful way” in which the Speaker and parties in Northern Ireland have responded to the passing of the duke.

“I think the unity of spirit has been evident so let us all harness and channel that spirit moving ahead as the Assembly and Executive work through the very real and significant challenges that face us,” she told MLAs.

“The Duke of Edinburgh demonstrated the desire for a better future, and particularly so for our younger generation. So let us embrace his legacy to positive effect as we all go about the job of seeing Northern Ireland reaching its full potential in the new century ahead of us.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said she extends her “sincere condolences to Queen Elizabeth and to her family”.

The Sinn Fein vice president noted “significant interventions” over the last two decades by the royal family to “assist in the building of relationships between Britain and Ireland”.

“It’s appropriate this contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation is rightly recognised,” she said.

SDLP Leader and Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

SDLP leader Nichola Mallon expressed her and her party’s sincere condolences to “Queen Elizabeth and her family on the loss of a loved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather”.

“My thoughts are particularly with the Queen, who has lost her husband of 73 years. To wake up without your steadfast companion must be heart-breaking – and for many of us must be unimaginable,” she said.

Ms Mallon also referred to “uncharitable and mean-spirited online commentary about Philip”, saying it “diminishes us all”.

“I don’t intend to reflect on his life’s history, I’ll leave that for others to discuss,” she said.

“Save to say that he was a complex individual, shaped by loss in early childhood, who refused to be pigeonholed or placed in a box.

“While across this House we hold different views on monarchy, his was a life of public service to a family that he clearly cherished and people who held him in the highest regard.

“This will be a difficult week for many in our community. It is important that we all respect that and continue to work together to heal the divisions of our past and build a more united community.”

UUP Leader Steve Aiken.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aiken expressed his and his party’s condolences to the Queen and the royal family.

“We all share in Her Majesty’s grief and her sense of loss for her husband, who was her constant companion, supporter and muse for 73 years of being together through momentous times of change. That sense of loss must be profound,” he told MLAs.

Mr Aiken thanked the recognition of the loss made by deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and members of the SDLP.

“May I state how welcome your remarks were and whilst we may disagree on much, those are welcome sentiments. I appreciate your sympathy and reaching out to those of us who hold the union and the monarchy dear,” he said.

The former Royal Navy commander said he had met the duke on a number of occasions, adding it was in the naval environment where the Duke of Edinburgh felt fully at home and where his anecdotes “were very much more of the salty kind”.

Alliance leader and Justice Minister Naomi Long.

Alliance Party leader Naomi sent her party’s thoughts and prayers to the royal family.

“My condolences in particular go to Her Majesty the Queen who has lost her husband and constant companion and support of over 73 years,” she told MLAs.

“The Duke of Edinburgh lived a remarkable life. After years of distinguished service in the Royal Navy, including in war time, he left behind his naval career which he loved and in which he excelled, to support the Queen when she became monarch.

“He demonstrated in practice what it means to be a supportive husband to a powerful woman.”

Mrs Long described the duke as a “reformer and moderniser” of the royal household, encouraging more informality and less protocol.

“Prince Philip’s was a long life, well lived,” said Mrs Long.

“I pray that the 73 years of happy memories and that life well lived will be able to bring some comfort to Her Majesty the Queen and to the wider family circle and all those who loved him in the difficult days and months ahead.”

TUV Leader Jim Allister.

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh as “such a rock and such a support for so many years” and expressed his condolences to the Queen and royal family.

“After 73 years of married life, Her Majesty must face her public and private life without her rock,” he said.

Mr Allister also challenged Sinn Fein over the murder of the duke’s uncle Lord Mountbatten by the IRA in 1979.

“Today would have been a good day for the Republican movement to unequivocally say sorry,” he said.

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