Former Northern Ireland First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader Dr Ian Paisley has died.
Dr Ian Paisley has passed away, aged 88. Born in Ballymena in Co Armagh in 1926, Ian Paisley co-founded Northern Ireland’s first Free Presbyterian Church in 1951.
In November 1968, he and Ronald Bunting led a Loyalist counter-demonstration against a civil rights march in Armagh, for which they were jailed. In 1970, The clergyman became an MP for North Antrim and founded the Democratic Unionist Party.
He opposed a number of political agreements relating to Northern Ireland including the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Mr Paisley was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, but refused to enter power-sharing, a decision he later reversed, and was First Minister from 2007 to 2008.
He continued to serve as an MP until 2010. According to Ian’s wishes his funeral will be private and attended only by the immediate family, as will be his burial.
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.”