Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has extended his best wishes to Pope Benedict XVI on the news of his retirement.
Deputy Martin said: “I was extremely surprised to hear of the Pope’s decision to resign this morning and I know it will come as a great shock to many Catholics in Ireland and across the world. This must have been a very difficult decision for Pope Benedict and one that took a great deal of courage and must be respected.
“When Cardinal Ratzinger succeeded Pope John Paul II in 2005 there was much goodwill for the new Pope in Ireland and I know that many people across the country will be equally welcoming for Pope Benedict’s successor in the weeks ahead.
“The principle concern of most people in hearing this news today will be for Pope Benedict’s health. I want to extend my very best wishes to him as he focuses on his health and a new chapter in his life. I know the thoughts and prayers of many Irish people are with Pope Benedict at this time.”