Belfast Telegraph

Paisley critics 'pygmies', says son

Ian Paisley's son has branded critics of his father "pygmies in his shadow".

He said his father and the wider family had been hurt by the way some in the Free Presbyterian Church, which he founded, and in politics allegedly took him for granted.

Dr Paisley died aged 88 on Friday. His private funeral was held at his Belfast home yesterday.

Ian Paisley Jnr told the Ballymena Guardian: "None of his detractors can take anything away from him. His critics appear as pygmies in his shadow.

"It is without doubt that Ian Paisley has ensured Ulster's place in the union."

He quoted famous 20th century unionist Edward Carson, talking about a friend who used him.

The North Antrim MP told his local newspaper: "Dad, indeed all of us, were hurt by the way some in the church and in political life treated him - indeed, even took him for granted.

"I am often reminded of Lord Carson's speech (in) the House of Lords, about one of his erstwhile friends, when he recounted he had been 'used as a ladder, only to be kicked away at a convenient moment'.

"And indeed I know that many, who wouldn't even be in politics or the church today, stand accused of that.

"But that is life and is the nature of people. Happily, our more previous and happier memories overshadow those darker moments."

The family held a private service at their home on Cyprus Avenue in Belfast yesterday morning before burial in Ballygowan, Co Down.

A lone piper led the way a few yards from the hearse to the grave beside Ballygowan Free Presbyterian Church.

A public memorial service will be held later in the year, the family has said.

Books of condolence were opened in the City Hall in Belfast and also at Stormont.

The former first minister and unionist leader was a firebrand fundamentalist Protestant preacher and polarising figure whose vehement opposition to dealing with the IRA and extreme anti-Catholic rhetoric were legendary.

The bellicose symbol of unionist defiance was famous for bellowing ''Never, never, never, never'' during a mass protest against Irish government involvement in Northern Ireland affairs in the 1980s.

He helped wreck earlier attempts at political accord, became the ultimate protest figure and promised to smash Sinn Fein.

But, in a potent symbol of the ground covered by political negotiations which largely ended violence, he entered government with republicans in 2007 as Stormont's first minister after Sinn Fein lent its support to the police.

Eventually his partnership with Martin McGuinness at the head of government led to them being dubbed the Chuckle Brothers.

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