Paisley gets peerage ... and a seat alongside his Lady wife
Published 29/05/2010 | 00:00
Former First Minister Ian Paisley was elevated to the House of Lords last night in recognition of his contribution to Northern Ireland politics.
The 84-year-old will join his wife Eileen on the red-benches just weeks after standing down from the North Antrim seat he had held for four decades.
Known to many as “the Doc” he will now become Lord Paisley although he can chose to lengthen his formal title to include a place name in the coming weeks.
Rev Paisley had been widely tipped to receive the peerage in yesterday’s Dissolution Honours list on the back of his immense legacy in Northern Ireland.
As the DUP’s founding father his firebrand style has seen him dominate political life with his outspoken views, which infamously included denouncing the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement with “never, never, never, never...”.
He slammed the planned visit of Pope John Paul II to the province and described the Good Friday Agreement as “treacherous” in 1998.
But he left behind his hardline anti-power sharing stance in later years after being convinced a deal was what the majority of the population wanted. He was eventually appointed First Minister, sitting alongside Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
He stood down as DUP leader and First Minister in 2008 and retired as an MP earlier this month, when his son was elected to the seat.
First Minister Peter Robinson said: “The recognition of Dr Paisley's long and illustrious political career is well-deserved. For some four decades, Dr Paisley represented the people of North Antrim with distinction.
“His leadership of the DUP and principled position throughout his career is worthy of this honour. An entire generation of Unionists were inspired to enter frontline politics by Ian Paisley.
“He is a giant of politics in Northern Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom. I know that he will continue to fight for unionist principles and the people of Ulster in the Upper Chamber.
“On behalf of all DUP members and supporters I congratulate him on this recognition”.
Dissolution Honours Lists are made with the approval of the Queen at the end of every Parliament, and provide outgoing Prime Ministers with an opportunity to reward colleagues. They also allow the new PM to appoint working peers.
It includes a number of high profile names, including former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and former Conservative leader Michael Howard and his former press secretary Guy Black, an executive director of the Telegraph Media Group.