Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley death: US Vice-President Joe Biden talks of a man who cared

By Adrian Rutherford

The US vice-president has led tributes to Ian Paisley from the US government.

"Dr Paisley was a man who cared deeply about his faith, his family, and his community," Joe Biden said.

"Through the negotiation of the St Andrews Agreement and then during his tenure as first minister of Northern Ireland, he demonstrated that one can hold strong convictions and still seek meaningful compromise in service of a lasting peace."

Bill Clinton, who played a key role in the peace process during his presidency from 1994 to 2000, spoke of a "remarkable" journey.

"I was saddened to learn of the death of Ian Paisley, whose remarkable political career carried him from being the leader of hardline unionism to his service as first minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which was marked by his good working relationship with Martin McGuinness," he said.

"In the end, the once polarising Paisley demonstrated that reconciliation and cooperation is better than conflict and discord.

"That is how he advanced peace for the people he loved so much."

Closer to home, the Free Presbyterian Church has paid tribute to Mr Paisley's "many, many years" of faithful service. Mr Paisley founded it in the 1950s after a dispute with the mainstream Presbyterian Church, and led it until 2008.

However, in a documentary broadcast earlier this year, the Paisleys said that none of the family had set foot in Martyrs Memorial Church on Belfast's Ravenhill Road since he finally left the pulpit in 2011 , believing he had been ousted. But in a weekend statement, the Free Presbyterian Church paid a warm tribute to its founder for his "huge contribution" to it.

The statement was signed by the church's moderator John Greer, its deputy moderator Thomas Murray and its clerk, Ian Brown, who is now minister at Martyrs Memorial.

It states: "We pay tribute to the many, many years of faithful Gospel ministry that Dr Paisley exercised both in Northern Ireland and also farther afield." The statement adds: "We remember also the huge contribution that Dr Paisley made to the foundation and formation of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster; and we salute his gifted leadership in his role as moderator of Presbytery over many decades."

It also extends sympathy to the Paisley family, adding: "In their time of deepest loss, when their hearts are broken and grief-stricken, we assure them of our prayerful support."

Further reading

Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness: The most unexpected partnership in politics

Three pivotal moments in a life of controversy

Martyrs flock united in sad reflection and admiration

McGuinness pays tribute to Paisley

Catholic bishop Noel Treanor pays tribute

From fire and brimstone to a peace once thought impossible

DUP felt wrath in Ian Paisley's final interview

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies might have reminded the Arabs of Sadat 

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