Former DUP leader Ian Paisley has revealed that he prayed alongside Martin McGuinness when the Deputy First Minister’s mother was dying.
The private religious moment between the former First Minister and Mr McGuinness emerged during an interview given by Mr Paisley at Queen’s University, ironically as negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Fein over devolution of policing and justice were stalling once again.
The man who once was removed from the European Parliament for denouncing Pope John Paul II as “the Antichrist” said he offered prayers for members of Mr McGuinness’ family, including his mother, who was ill at the time.
The founding member of the Free Presbyterian Church said he “did the praying” while ex-IRA man and current Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness “did the listening”.
Mr Paisley said: “There were some individual matters that he had, home matters of people being ill and his mother being ill, and we prayed together.”
“I did the praying and he did the listening, but he wanted me to do it. I said I can do nothing but the God that we believe in can do something.
“And I would suggest we pray. He said ‘yes, do pray’.
“I offered prayer for him and I think that was the right thing to do, I don’t care what people say.
“I hope that I have the same heart as Christ had, a love for others who needed help in times of need.”
Mr Paisley also revealed that he had first spoken to the Sinn Fein minister about their working relationship after a deal was struck over power-sharing.
“I said ‘we have never spoken before but let me do the speaking first’, he said ‘certainly’,” Mr Paisley said.
Just as the current DUP and Sinn Fein talks over policing and justice grind to a halt, Mr Paisley told of his efforts to make power-sharing with Sinn Fein work. “I simply said (to Mr McGuinness) ‘you know what has happened today, I want to make a success of this, I believe you want to make a success of this’.”