Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

DUP founder Rev Ian Paisley to quit as MP

Ian Paisley at a protest rally at Carrickfergus Castle in 1971
Ian Paisley at a protest rally at Carrickfergus Castle in 1971
Former Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley holding his first great grandchild Caleb Cassells
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembley, Stormont. May 8, 2007.
Ian Paisley confronts an RUC officer when refused access to Duke Street where the Civil Rights parade went on. 10/10/1988
Ian Paisley at the scene of the IRA motar attack on Newry Police Station. which killed 9 officers. 28/2/1985.
Ian Paisley
Former DUP leader Ian Paisley wearing the traditional red beret of paramilitary group the Ulster Resistance in Ulster Hall
Ian Paisley leaves Crumlin Road jail in the 60s
Unionist protests at visit to Belfast of Charles Haughey, former Taoiseach. Pictured Rev Ian Paisley. 11/4/1990.
The Queen greeted by First Minister Ian Paisley in east Belfast
Former Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley will not seek re-election
Hundreds of thousands of Unionists crowded Belfast City Centre in a huge "Ulster Says No" rally against power sharing after a call by the Rev Ian Paisley and other Unionist leaders of the time. Picture by Photopress
Ian Paisley demonstrates at Stormont in 1981
Ian Paisley at DUP HQ in 1985. The party leader held a sledge hammer to depict his 'smash Sinn Fein' message
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness, right chat as they leave after a meeting at City Hall in New York, Monday Dec. 3, 2007
Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson are taken away by police in Armagh after protesting a vist by Charles Haughey in 1980
Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speak to the media during a press conference at the Stormont Assembly building in Belfast
Ian Paisley after meeting with the General John De Chastelain in 2004
Martin McGuiness, left, Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland's First Minister, center, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, react as they listen during a meeting at City Hall in New York, Monday, Dec. 3, 2007. Paisley and McGuinness are on their first US trip together to drum up business for Northern Ireland's economy.
Duncan L. Niederauer, center, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, presents a gift to the two leaders of Northern Ireland's newly devolved government, First Minister Dr. Ian Paisley, right, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness, left, at a breakfast held by the American Ireland Fund, at the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Dec., 3, 2007. The two leaders made a joint presentation to a business audience of the case for United States investment in Northern Ireland.
Confrontation at Lisburn market: UKUP leader Bob McCartney making a point and alongside DUP leader Ian Paisley and councillor Paul Given
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were branded the 'chuckle brothers'
Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, right, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in New York after they rang the opening bell, Wednesday Dec. 5, 2007

Former DUP leader Rev Ian Paisley has confirmed that he will not be standing in the forthcoming general election.

The 83-year-old founding father and ex-leader of the Democratic Unionist Party is to relinquish the North Antrim seat he first won in 1970.

His decision could open the way for his son, Ian Paisley Jnr, to stand as the DUP's candidate in the constituency.

The contest is expected to be a tight one, with the leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice party, Jim Allister, having already announced his intention to run in North Antrim. The DUP will officially select its Westminster candidate for the North Antrim seat next week.

Mr Paisley announced his decision to stand down in his local constituency paper, the Ballymena Guardian.

Ian Paisley Jnr confirmed his father would be standing down. "I would want to pay tribute to the fantastic role my father has played as a Member of Parliament for the last 40 years," he said.

Famed for his firebrand oratory, Mr Paisley was a founding member of the Free Presbyterian Church in Ireland in 1951. His evangelical theology heavily influenced his political views and throughout the Troubles he forthrightly denounced Catholicism and the Papacy.

During the conflict he was a fierce critic of power-sharing with nationalists and of the Republic of Ireland having a say in Northern Ireland's affairs. But in his later political life, the one-time cheer-leader for hardline unionism underwent somewhat of a political conversion which finally saw him enter office with his long-time enemy, Sinn Fein.

His decision to accept the position of First Minister alongside Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness in 2007 saw him hailed as a peacemaker by moderates but criticised by many former followers who accused him of betraying Ulster. What proved almost more remarkable was the warmth of the relationship the two erstwhile foes developed during their year in officer together, leading some to dub them the "Chuckle Brothers".

Mr Paisley stood down as First Minister in 2008. He was replaced by his long-time DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson.

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