Religiously he shifted from being an independent baptist preacher to found the Free Presbyterian Church after a Presbyterian church was forbidden to allow him to speak at a meeting in their church hall.
Politically, his journey started by campaigning for a West Belfast Ulster Unionist Party candidate through the National Union of Protestants, activism through Ulster Protestant Action and Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, the Protestant Unionist Party and then forming the DUP in 1971.
- MP – 1970 to 2010
- MEP – 1979 to 2004
- MLA – 1998 – 2011
- Elevated/ennobled to the House of Lords in 2010.
With a political career dominated by “No”, “Never” and challenging those (including the Pope) with whom he had major moral and political differences, Ian Paisley remarkably ended up saying “Yes” to government with Sinn Fein, becoming one half of the “Chuckle Brothers” along with Martin McGuinness. A skilful parliamentarian, his service to all constituents was often cited in contrast to his public persona. Later the manner of his fall from leadership of the two organisations he was at the heart of forming – the DUP and the Free Presbyterian Church – was remarkable.
His wife, Baroness Paisley released a statement this morning to announce his death:
Although ours is the grand hope of reunion, naturally as a family we are heartbroken … We loved him and he adored us, and our earthly lives are forever changed …
According to Ian’s wishes his funeral will be private and attended only by the immediate family, as will be his burial. As a family we appreciate that there will be an expectation by those who admired him to express their gratitude for his life and their sorrow at his passing. To that end we will in due course publish details of a public memorial service which, will be scheduled later in the year.
According to Ian’s wishes his funeral will be private and attended only by the immediate family, as will be his burial.
A complicated and often divisive figure whose recent televised interviews with Eamonn Mallie (and the DUP and Free Presbyterian reaction) perhaps asked more questions than they answered as we witnessed the Big Man’s lack of self-reflection.
Much will be said and argued about his contribution to Northern Ireland in the weeks and months ahead.
In the meantime, a husband, a father, a preacher and a politician will be mourned. And a huge figure in Northern Ireland politics over the last 45 years will be remembered.
Commenters are reminded to be respectful.