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It is with deep sadness that I have heard of the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

It is a sadness that I know will shared by countless others in Northern Ireland and right across the world.

Prince Philip was widely respected for his active and dedicated service to the country and for his steadfast support to Her Majesty the Queen throughout her reign.

He had a strong interest in Northern Ireland and I had the privilege of meeting him on a number of his many visits here.

He had a profound and positive impact on thousands of our young people who found their purpose, passion and place in the world through participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

This inspirational programme is just one example of the many charities and voluntary organisations in which he was involved in right up to his retirement from public service at the age of 96.

I offer my deepest sympathies and condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and to the other members of the royal family at this sad time.