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PM Gordon Brown pays tribute to Ian Paisley

Prime Minister Gordon Brown last night led the tributes to Ian Paisley, a political giant in Northern Ireland for 40 years.

Mr Brown’s spokesman said: “The Prime Minister wants to pay tribute to Dr Paisley... for his long and courageous career in Westminster politics.

“He has been a passionate advocate on behalf of the unionist community for over four decades and his courage, both in committing to the path of reconciliation and compromise and in playing such a significant part in bringing the unionist community in Northern Ireland with him, has enabled Northern Ireland to look forward to a bright, peaceful and more prosperous future.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness hailed Mr Paisley's contribution to the peace process.

“I found that we could work together for the good of the people that we represented without compromising our beliefs — he as a unionist and myself as a republican. I have to say also that in that time he and I became friends.”

Ian Paisley- key dates

1969: Rev Ian Paisley was jailed for organising an illegal counter-demonstration against Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march in Armagh.

1970: In the UK general election he was elected MP for the North Antrim constituency which he has retained since then and is now the longest-serving MP from Northern Ireland.

1971: Rev Paisley and Desmond Boal established the most successful of his political movements, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which replaced his Protestant Unionist Party.

January 22, 1974: Rev Paisley and several loyalist colleagues were removed from the chamber at Stormont after they refused to give up the front bench seats to the new Executive members and had mounted a noisy protest.

February 1974: he increased his North Antrim majority in the general election from under 3,000 in 1970 to some 27,000.

1979: Rev Paisley was elected one of Northern Ireland's three MEPs at the first elections to the European Parliament. He topped the poll.

July 1979: Rev Paisley attacked any notion that Pope John Paul II should enter Northern Ireland during the upcoming Papal visit.

1981: Rev Paisley was suspended from the Commons for five days for calling Secretary of State Humphrey Atkins a liar during a discussion about the murder of former Stormont speaker Sir Norman Stronge and his son.

1981: The roaring denunciation of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement — in which Rev Paisley booms “Never, never, never, never...” — has become one of the most famous speeches of his political career.

October 1988: Rev Paisley was ejected from the European Parliament when he interrupted an address by Pope John Paul II.

1989: European election, Rev Paisley maintained his poll topping position.

April 1998: Rev Paisley denounced the Good Friday Agreement as treacherous.

1999: he caused outrage by using parliamentary privilege to name people he alleged were behind the Kingsmill massacre.

2004: At the age of 78, Rev Paisley retired from his European Parliament seat at the elections and was succeeded by the DUP’s Jim Allister.

2005: At the general election he won 25,156 votes, giving him a majority of nearly 18,000. In the same year he was made a Privy Councillor.

May 8, 2007: aged 81, Rev Paisley was sworn in as First Minister alongside Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister.

March 4, 2008: Rev Ian Paisley announced he planned to stand down as First Minister and leader of the DUP in May.

Read more

* Storm at Robinson silence

* First shots already fired in a compelling fight for seat

* Constituents pondering on ‘replacing the irreplaceable’

* Champion of farmers and rural concerns

* Seat will be battlefield for unionism’s future

* Paisley: From a firebrand unionist to sharing with SF

* Allister: Legacy will be terrorists in government

* Ian Paisley quits after 40 years as MP

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