DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister RT Hon Peter Robinson MLA has paid tribute the former DUP leader Ian Paisley stating he was ‘a remarkable man’.
In a statement to the Times, Mr Robinson said: “At a time such as this words seem inadequate. Ian was a remarkable man whose long career in public life has left an indelible mark upon all of us who knew him.
“As a young person in the late 1960s, I was drawn towards politics by the strength of Ian’s message and by his charisma. He provided firm and decisive leadership when unionism lacked it most and when it needed it most.
“His enthusiasm and sheer joy of life was infectious and he could energise an audience like no other person I have met before or since.
“Ian loved the Ulster people and they repaid the compliment by electing him at the head of the poll in five consecutive European elections. The “Big Man” had a sincere interest in people problems whether big or small. There are literally tens of thousands of people who have been touched by individual acts of kindness carried out away from the glare and gaze of the media.
“Ian’s faith shaped his entire life and he lived out his Christian principles. To paraphrase the hymn-writer, Ian’s unshakeable belief in Jesus Christ, was old yet ever new. We will never know this side of eternity just how many thousands of lives were changed through his preaching and witness.
“For most of his life, Ian was blessed to have Eileen by his side. Whether he was battling on the front line or marching on the sunny uplands she has given him decades of love and support. At this sad time, the prayers of everyone in the DUP and far beyond the confines of our party are with Baroness Paisley, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“A long and glorious period of Ulster history has now closed and already the Province seems a little less colourful. Ian has taken his place in history alongside the greats of unionism making our heritage even more rich. To have known him and stood alongside him for so many years has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.
“As a leader of men, a friend of the people, a servant of the state and a voice for the truth Ian Paisley excelled and shone. Ulster will never see the like of him again: a giant of a human being, a true Ulsterman with an immeasurable love for the Province and its people. It can truly be said of Ian that he was the founding father of the new Northern Ireland.
“Like Paul of old he can say: ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.’”