Death of Ian Paisley: Life and Times

PACEMAKER BELFAST.  Meeting of Ulster Party Leaders at Stormont Castle in 1973. L-R Phelim O'Neill, Brian Faulkner, David Howell, Willie Whitelaw, Sir William Nield, Dr Vivian Simpson and Rev Ian Paisley.
PACEMAKER BELFAST. Meeting of Ulster Party Leaders at Stormont Castle in 1973. L-R Phelim O'Neill, Brian Faulkner, David Howell, Willie Whitelaw, Sir William Nield, Dr Vivian Simpson and Rev Ian Paisley.
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For years Northern Ireland and Ian Paisley were inseparable in the eyes of the world.

The man who formed the DUP became famous worldwide for his staunch unionism and his stock phrases ‘No surrender’ and ‘Not An Inch’.

He was the man who brought down a power sharing executive at Stormont, but ended up leading one as First Minister in an unlikely double act in government with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness 30 years later.

His 40-year political career spanned the Troubles in Northern Ireland and latterly the peace process which spawned the current government at Stormont.

Ian Kyle Paisley was born in 1926 in Armagh. He was the son of a Baptist minister and a preacher, following in his mother’s footsteps when he delivered his first sermon at the age of 16 at a mission hall in County Tyrone.

At the age of 25 he broke away from the Baptist Church, forming the Free Presbyterian Church which was based on the Ravenhill Road in Belfast.

He began to forge his reputation as a firebrand Protestant extremist in the 1960s, both in television appearances and by leading demonstrations.

Protesting against a visit by Irish Prime Minister Sean Lemass’ visit to Belfast in 1965, he led 1,000 loyalists to Stormont to demonstrate.

And in 1967 he threw snowballs at Lemass’ successor Jack Lynch on his visit to Northern Ireland.

He was sent to prison for six weeks for unlawful assembly when he organised a demonstration in 1968 and forced civil rights marchers to cut short a parade in his native Armagh.

He was fist elected to the Stormont Parliament in 1970 and just two months later took the North Antrim seat at Westminster. It was said at the time that his maiden speech in the House of Commons could also be heard in the House of Lords.

Mr Paisley founded the Democratic Unionist Party in 1971, taking on the established Ulster Unionist Party.

He opposed the formation of the power-sharing executive at Stormont in 1973 and became involved in the Ulster Workers’ Council strike which brought the country to a standstill.

Although vigourously anti-European, he topped the poll in his first election to the European Parliament in 1979.

In 1985 he joined forces with the Ulster Unionist Party to oppose the Anglo-Irish Agreement with the famous slogan ‘Ulster Says No’ which adorned the City Hall in Belfast.

Initially the DUP and Mr Paisley opposed the peace process, but after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, they came back into the political fold and for the first time surpassed the Ulster Unionists at the polls.

Mr Paisley became first Minister of Northern Ireland in May 2007 with Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. They formed an unilkey public persona, becoming known as the Chuckle Brothers.

Peter Robinson succeded Mr Paisley as both leader of the DUP and First Minister in 2008 and Mr Paisley would later claim that he had been forced out of the party he had founded.

Mr Paisley leaves behind his wife Eileen and five children.