It was today announced that former leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Ian Paisley has died at the age of 88.
“My beloved husband, Ian, entered his eternal rest this morning,” his wife Eileen announced. “We are heartbroken; we loved him & he adored us.”
He was born Ian Richard Kyle Paisley in Armagh and brought up in Ballymena, Co. Antrim where his father James, who had served in the Ulster Volunteers under Edward Carson, was an Independent Baptist pastor.
Paisley co-founded the DUP in 1971, leading the party up until 2008, and was also a founding member and Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster for 57 years.
On March 4 of 2008 Paisley announced that he would step down as First Minister and leader of the DUP, and was proceeded by Peter Robinson as DUP leader on May 31 and First Minister on June 5 of that year.
Sinn Fein politician Martin McGuinness has been the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland since 2007.
In 2005, Paisley’s political party became the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland, as they displaced long-term rivals the Ulster Unionists who had previously dominated the country’s unionist politics.
While Gordon Brown was Prime Minister he made Paisley a life peer in the honours list, which gave him the title of Baron Bannside of North Antrim on June 18 2010.
On hearing the news, McGuinness tweeted: “Very sad to learn that Ian Paisley has died. My deepest sympathy to his wife Eileen and family. Once political opponents – I have lost a friend.”