Europe

IRA leader turned peacemaker McGuinness announces retirement

  • Former deputy Northern Ireland First Minister Martin McGuinness arrives at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. The Northern Ireland Assembly faces likely dissolution for an election that could make revival of a Catholic-Protestant government more difficult following the recent resignation by Martin McGuinness. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Former deputy Northern Ireland First Minister Martin McGuinness arrives at Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. The Northern Ireland Assembly faces likely dissolution for an election that could make revival of a Catholic-Protestant government more difficult following the recent resignation by Martin McGuinness. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at the count centre in Dublin, Ireland. Allies and political opponents on Friday Jan. 20, 2017, are paying tribute to Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army commander-turned-peacemaker who is stepping down as one of Northern Ireland's most influential politicians. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

    FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at the count centre in Dublin, Ireland. Allies and political opponents on Friday Jan. 20, 2017, are paying tribute to Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army commander-turned-peacemaker who is stepping down as one of Northern Ireland's most influential politicians. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at the count centre in Dublin, Ireland. Allies and political opponents on Friday Jan. 20, 2017, are paying tribute to Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army commander-turned-peacemaker who is stepping down as one of Northern Ireland's most influential politicians. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

    FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 file photo, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at the count centre in Dublin, Ireland. Allies and political opponents on Friday Jan. 20, 2017, are paying tribute to Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army commander-turned-peacemaker who is stepping down as one of Northern Ireland's most influential politicians. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)  (The Associated Press)

Allies and political opponents are paying tribute to Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army commander-turned-peacemaker who is stepping down as one of Northern Ireland's most influential politicians.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said McGuinness had played a key role in moving the Irish nationalist Republican movement toward "peaceful and democratic means."

Leading pro-U.K. Protestant politician Ian Paisley, Jr., said Friday that McGuinness' "remarkable journey ... not only saved lives, but made the lives of countless people better."

McGuinness, from the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party, quit as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister last week, plunging the Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government into crisis.

On Thursday he announced his retirement from front-line politics, saying he needed to concentrate on recovering from "a very serious illness." He did not say what the illness is.