David Ford said: “Regardless of concerns over his personal finances, Bertie Ahern has served people in the North and South of Ireland with remarkable distinction over a very long period.
“He was always a positive figure during negotiations and was very constructive, often during difficult stages in the peace process. He must be commended for the amount of work he did during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, even though his mother had passed away only a few days earlier.
“Unlike some others, he was prepared to extend the hand of friendship to Northern Ireland. I trust his successor will continue the good relations which currently exist as we seek to build a united community and new society.”