THE Reverend and Right Honourable Lord Ian Richard Kyle Paisley, Baron Bannside has died, aged 88. The ex-First Minister of Northern Ireland died at his home, after being ill for some time.
Known for his outspoken beliefs and his strong opposition to the IRA, the former Democratic Unionist Party leader was a Protestant preacher and powerful politician who co-founded the DPU in 1971 and lead the party up until his departure in 2008.
Known for his tactlessness and outlandish ways, he was expelled from the European Parliament for calling John Pope II ‘the anti-christ’; Caused uproar with his ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ campaign against the decriminalisation of gays in Ulster and his famous phrase “never, never, never,“ was chanted throughout Belfast as he led hundreds and thousands of protesters against Margaret Thatcher’s moves to get closer ties with Dublin.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr Paisley was “one of the most forceful and instantly recognisable characters in British politics for nearly half a century.” He said he was a controversial politician but his contribution in his later years to stability in Northern Ireland was ‘huge.’
“In particular, his decision to take his party into government with Sinn Féin in 2007 required great courage and leadership, for which everyone in these islands should be grateful.”
His funeral will be a private family burial, but a public memorial service will be scheduled for later on in the year.
He is survived by his wife Eileen, three daughters, two sons and numerous grandchildren.