Belfast Telegraph

Paisley death 'end of an era': Hume

Ian Paisley's death marks the end of an era, his former political opponent John Hume has said.

The veteran nationalist leader was at loggerheads with Mr Paisley for decades over Northern Ireland's political future.

But Mr Hume has recalled him as a man who was capable of great charm and remembered how, despite their differences, the pair worked together on economic issues.

He said Mr Paisley had eventually embraced the politics of compromise, but he questioned if history might ask why he did not do it sooner.

"I knew Ian Paisley well throughout our many years in politics and we enjoyed a close working relationship in the European Parliament," said Mr Hume.

"During this time Mr Paisley was a larger than life character in Irish politics and a dominant voice within unionism.

"While he was not always constructive, and often politically challenging, he could, on a personal level, be very charming.

"His over-stated outbursts often overshadowed the understated constituency work he carried out for all the people of North Antrim whom he represented as an MP and MLA, and the tireless efforts he made on behalf of Northern Ireland as a member of the European Parliament."

The former leader of the SDLP added: "However history will record his political career as a journey - one which took him from the politics of division to a place where he accepted agreement as a solution, the need for power-sharing, and respect for diversity.

"But history will also ask if he should have reached this point sooner."

Mr Hume said: "Mr Paisley's passing marks the end of an era. To Eileen and the extended family, I wish to express my most sincere condolences."

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