It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Dr Ian Paisley.
He was a man of strong principles and a deep religious conviction who was the voice of many people from his tradition. He was admired by many for his resolute spirit and his strength of purpose. These qualities were very much to the fore when he did what was once unimaginable and, together with Martin McGuinness, brought nationalist and unionist parties together in partnership government in the Northern Ireland Executive.
I recall especially that historic occasion when Dr Paisley and his wife Eileen took part in the opening of the Battle of the Boyne heritage site. That day represented what many had worked so long to achieve, cooperation between North and South with recognition of our shared history and heritage. On that occasion, Dr Paisley spoke of his love for ‘this island we jointly hold together’. He spoke of how he wanted ‘the best for the people of every part of this island’.
I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Baronness Paisley, their children and wider family on their loss. I also extend my condolences to his friends and former colleagues in the Democratic Unionist Party.