By: Dominic Doherty
Since his decision to resign as deputy First Minister and take a step back from frontline politics, the tributes flowing in from politicians, church people and citizens from across the religious and political divide and from all walks of life are testament to the stature of the man and the esteem in which he is held.
Thursday's election has significantly altered the make-up of politics in the north of Ireland as a more focussed and energised Sinn Fein enticed republican voters back to the polls and historically ended the unionist majority at Stormont.
On Thursday March 2, people in the North of Ireland will go to the poll to vote for the new Assembly. Following the resignation of Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein Martin McGuinness last month, new elections have been called. The north's largest unionist party, the DUP, had refused to tackle the accusation of corruption it faced and First Minister Arlene Foster, instead of stepping down as she should have done, has preferred to wait for Sinn Fein to resign and so trigger elections. Now the DUP is increasingly fearful amid predictions that it could fall below the thirty seats it needs to hold on to its veto over political change in the north of Ireland.
Sinn Fein has announced that Mid-Ulster Assembly member Michelle O'Neill is to lead the party into the Six County Assembly elections on 2 March.
Following the resignation, last week, of Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in protest at unionist arrogance and intransigence, the Stormont Executive has collapsed and new elections will be held on 2 March.