Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Well-wishers mark Ian Paisley's retirement from the pulpit

The Rev Ian Paisley
Former DUP leader Ian Paisley reacts to questioning from the media outside Castle Buildings
Ian Paisley gets a kiss for luck from his wife Eileen at the 2007 Stormont Assembly Election count

For the man who has had more farewells than Frank Sinatra, the Reverend Ian Paisley last night marked his retirement from the pulpit.

The 85-year-old former DUP leader, North Antrim MP and Northern Ireland First Minister has already taken a back seat in the political arena.

Last night 2,500 people attended a special service at the Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church on the Ravenhill Road in Belfast to mark his farewell after more than 60 years as a pastor and church moderator.

Guests at the service included Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots and DUP MP William McCrea, who sang a solo. Ian Paisley's wife, Eileen, their five children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren also attended.

Tributes were paid by the Reverend Dr John Douglas and his son, the Reverend Kyle Paisley.

Speaking before the service, Dr Paisley, now known as Lord Bannside, said: "I am exceedingly happy that I've had the privilege of being the preacher here for 65 years, and that's a long time.

"We have seen a miraculous work done, and we have seen a great change in our city in many ways. We've seen a change spiritually by people having respect for the bible."

The former DUP leader set up the Free Presbyterian Church in 1951 after a split with the main Presbyterian Church and gave his last sermon before a packed church in December. He retired as DUP leader in 2008 and was succeeded by Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland's current first minister.

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