TRIBUTES have been paid to the former First Minister of Wales Rhodri Morgan.

It was announced yesterday (May 17) that Mr Morgan had died at the age of 77.

He was elected as an MP in 1987 for Cardiff West and went on to become leader of Welsh Labour and First Minister of Wales in 2000, replacing Alun Michael, and held the position until 2009.

Political parties in Wales have suspended campaigning for the General Election out of respect for Mr Morgan.

Alun Michael, the current police and crime commissioner for South Wales and former First Minister of Wales said he was "shocked" by the sad news of Rhodri Morgan’s death.

"He was the most popular politician of his generation and the absolute master of the one-liner," said Mr Michael.

"When Rhodri and I were first elected in 1987 we were part of a Welsh resurgence of political radicalism which was a staging point for 1997 and the road to devolution which has been so crucial to the Wales in which we now live.

"He led the Welsh government and the a through turbulent times to stability and laid the firm foundations on which Carwyn Jones and the current government have been able to build.

"While we had our disagreements, for instance over the Cardiff Bay Barrage, Rhodri was always a vigorous and colourful debater, but not personal.

"We remained friends and he is someone whose commitment to Wales and to the people he served in Westminster and then in the assembly was always absolute.

"He will be greatly missed and our sympathy goes to Julie and Rhodri’s whole family."

South Wales Central AM and leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said: "Rhodri Morgan was a giant of devolved politics in Wales who served a hugely important role in stabilising the National Assembly during its formative years.

"As First Minister, his answers in the chamber were always worthy of attention and his encyclopedic knowledge across his brief ensured he was rarely wrong-footed.

"Our first meeting was not in the political arena but came after Rhodri was forced to barricade his garden late on an autumn Sunday evening after some of my cattle had misbehaved and wandered into the Morgans’ – he was undoubtedly one of life’s true characters.

"And while politically we didn’t see eye to eye, there is no question that he was held in high regard right across the political spectrum and he will be missed by all who knew him.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Julie and the family and as a mark of respect the Welsh Conservatives have suspended all campaigning today."

Cardiff South and Penarth parliamentary candidate Stephen Doughty said: "I was devastated to hear of the news of Rhodri's untimely death. 

"He was a friend, inspiration and mentor to me and so many others having known him since I was a kid.

"He was down to earth, no airs and graces but passionate values.

"I was last with Julie and him on Saturday night with the Indian community and he was full of friendship, wit and intellect as ever.

"He was a giant of Cardiff and Welsh politics, a leading light in the Labour movement and will go down in history as one of the fathers of modern Wales.

"We will all miss him terribly. My thoughts are with Jule and his whole family."