Published Thursday, 08 May 2014
The First and Deputy First Ministers with Irish cyclist Nicolas Roche. (© Presseye)
Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have been embroiled in a bitter war of words over the past week, first over the arrest of Gerry Adams and then over a recommendation to give those injured during the Troubles a pension.
Both the DUP leader and the Sinn Féin minister took part in the opening ceremony of the Giro to welcome the sporting event on Thursday.
Mr Robinson said: "Hosting the Giro d'Italia is a real sign that the Executive has built an international reputation in bringing world-class sporting and cultural events to our shores and for promoting Northern Ireland as a place that's great to live, invest and visit.
"Northern Ireland continues to build on the legacy of events such as last year's G8 Summit and the World Police and Fire Games. We have more great events to look forward to with the Irish Open coming to Royal County Down and the Lough Erne Resort in 2015 and 2017.
"I send my best wishes to all those participating in any way in this superb event."
The 2014 Grande Partenza will be a fantastic spectacle. There is no doubt the worldwide media coverage generated from it will promote tourism and attract foreign direct investment to help grow Northern Ireland's economy.
Mr McGuinness added: "We are deeply honoured that the 2014 Giro d'Italia Big Start is from here in the north of Ireland - the first time the race has ever been outside mainland Europe.
"We have a strong connection and affinity with the Giro with Stephen Roche winning the race in 1987.
"Cycling has experienced unprecedented growth in Ireland in the last few years. People of all ages and abilities have started to get involved and that makes the hosting of the Giro even more significant.
"This exceptional opportunity to host the Giro offers us a platform to showcase the best of what we have to offer as an attractive place to do business, visit, study and live."
I encourage people to 'go pink' and not miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity to support the cyclists en route. I wish everyone who participates in the 2014 Giro Big Start the very best of luck.
Earlier, in a separate interview with UTV, the deputy First Minister reflected on his seven years in power alongside the DUP.
He said: "Thursday is the seventh anniversary of myself and Ian Paisley going into government together.
"Ian Paisley, in doing that, showed he was someone who recognised the importance of moving away from what was a very damaging and bitter past and toward a better future.
"And against all the odds we had the ability to have a civilised, courteous and friendly relationship which I have treasured to this day and know he does too.
"It's obvious to me senior people in the DUP did not like that relationship and I think you can see the impact of that in the events of the past six years."
Mr Robinson has insisted that differences of opinions are to be expected.
"There are always going to be political differences - that happens in every country. We, of course, will work our way through all of the difficulties that we have," he said.
© UTV News