Ian Paisley dies aged 88 - tributes and updates

Ian Paisley dies aged 88 - tributes and updates

DR Ian Paisley, the former Democratic Unionist Party leader and Northern Ireland Assembly First Minister, has died his wife Eileen said today.

Dr Paisley was born in Ballymena in Co Antrim in 1926.

In 1951 he co-founded Northern Ireland's first Free Presbyterian Church and later founded the Democratic Unionist Party in 1970.

He was opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and also opposed a number of Northern Ireland political agreements.

Dr Paisley was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, but refused to enter power-sharing.

He later reversed his position and was First Minister from 2007 to 2008. He continued to serve as an MP until 2010.

In a statement, his wife said: "My beloved husband, Ian, entered his eternal rest this morning.

"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.

"There will be no further comment or statements made by me or the family at this time."

Martin McGuinness Tribute Martin McGuinness, Dr Paisley's one time bitter rival, has expressed his regret and sadness over the politician's death. Mr McGuinness said: "Over a number of decades we were political opponents and held very different views on many, many issues but the one thing we were absolutely united on was the principle that our people were better able to govern themselves than any British government. "I want to pay tribute to and comment on the work he did in the latter days of his political life in building agreement and leading unionism into a new accommodation with republicans and nationalists. "In the brief period that we worked together in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister I developed a close working relationship with him which developed into a friendship, which despite our many differences lasted beyond his term in office. "I want to send my sincere sympathy to his wife, Eileen, his children and extended family."

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has also expressed his sympathies to the Paisley family on the passing of Dr Ian Paisley. The Taoiseach said: “I wish to express my sympathy to Baroness Paisley and her family on the passing of Dr Ian Paisley. Dr Paisley was by any measure a major figure in the history of these islands. “I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to him in recent years, and I know that he treasured the peace and friendship that he had lived to see, and helped to build, between our traditions. “His devotion to his Faith and to the Unionist people of Northern Ireland was deep and unshakeable. “In time, history will come to a fuller judgement of his long career. “And, while he was of course a divisive figure, his greatest legacy will be one of peace. “On this day, our thoughts are with his family and our sympathies go to the many thousands of people who were devoted to him during his life.”