Traditional Unionist leader Jim Allister said his former party leader had “done a good job” during his early years but branded Mr Paisley’s performance in more recent years “far from impressive”.
Mr Allister won a European seat for the DUP in 2004 before leaving the party in protest over its powersharing with Sinn Fein.
“It is obvious this is a big moment in North Antrim. When somebody is an MP for 40 years it is quite a significant event when they decide to stand down,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“I must say I am not terribly surprised, he is 83. Perhaps the only surprise is that he didn’t stand down sooner.
“Whatever his achievements in earlier years as a towering parliamentarian, in this Parliament he was not giving North Antrim the voice it needed, turning up for only 18% of the votes.
“For one who once championed traditional unionism — with such colourful pledges as Sinn Fein only getting into government over his dead body — sadly his abiding legacy will be of bequeathing Ulster terrorist-inclusive government. This legacy will inevitably be an issue at the polls.”
Mr Allister said he is confident that he can snatch the staunchly unionist seat from the DUP at the upcoming election.