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Ian Paisley bids his final farewell to Westminster

A crowd of students pictured at a meeting with Ian Paisley (centre) near Belfast City Hall. 9/10/1968.
A crowd of students pictured at a meeting with Ian Paisley (centre) near Belfast City Hall. 9/10/1968.
Former DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley has made his farewell speech in the Commons
The Rev Ian Paisley plays the flute at the independents Orange parade in Portglenone.2008
Ian Paisley pictured on his weding day to wife Eileen
Ian Paisley aged 12
Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds with DUP Candidates for Belfast Council Elections. 24/4/89
Ian Paisley DUP electioneering for Europe in Portadown. 11/6/84
November 1985 - Ian Paisley and Jim Molyneaux address the 250,000 crowd at the Anti Anglo Irish rally in Belfast
Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson being arrested in Armagh.1980
Ian Paisley addresses a 12,000 strong crowd at the 40th anniversary of the Free Presbyterian church in the Kings Hall. 1999
The Reverend Ian Paisley speaking at a ceremony held at Stormont to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of Edward Carson. October 1985
15/08/1971 of The Reverend Ian Paisley during a press conference in Stormont, Northern Ireland.
Ian Paisley at a protest rally at Carrickfergus Castle in 1971
Former Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley holding his first great grandchild Caleb Cassells
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembley, Stormont.
Ian Paisley confronts an RUC officer when refused access to Duke Street where the Civil Rights parade went on. 10/10/1988
Ian Paisley at the scene of the IRA motar attack on Newry Police Station. which killed 9 officers. 28/2/1985.
Ian Paisley
Former DUP leader Ian Paisley wearing the traditional red beret of paramilitary group the Ulster Resistance in Ulster Hall
Ian Paisley leaves Crumlin Road jail in the 60s
Unionist protests at visit to Belfast of Charles Haughey, former Taoiseach. Pictured Rev Ian Paisley. 11/4/1990.
The Queen greeted by First Minister Ian Paisley in east Belfast
Former Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley will not seek re-election
Hundreds of thousands of Unionists crowded Belfast City Centre in a huge "Ulster Says No" rally against power sharing after a call by the Rev Ian Paisley and other Unionist leaders of the time. Picture by Photopress
Ian Paisley demonstrates at Stormont in 1981
Ian Paisley at DUP HQ in 1985. The party leader held a sledge hammer to depict his 'smash Sinn Fein' message
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness, right chat as they leave after a meeting at City Hall in New York, Monday Dec. 3, 2007
Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson are taken away by police in Armagh after protesting a vist by Charles Haughey in 1980
Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speak to the media during a press conference at the Stormont Assembly building in Belfast
Ian Paisley after meeting with the General John De Chastelain in 2004
Martin McGuiness, left, Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland's First Minister, center, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, react as they listen during a meeting at City Hall in New York, Monday, Dec. 3, 2007. Paisley and McGuinness are on their first US trip together to drum up business for Northern Ireland's economy.
Duncan L. Niederauer, center, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, presents a gift to the two leaders of Northern Ireland's newly devolved government, First Minister Dr. Ian Paisley, right, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness, left, at a breakfast held by the American Ireland Fund, at the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Dec., 3, 2007. The two leaders made a joint presentation to a business audience of the case for United States investment in Northern Ireland.
Confrontation at Lisburn market: UKUP leader Bob McCartney making a point and alongside DUP leader Ian Paisley and councillor Paul Given
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were branded the 'chuckle brothers'
Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, right, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in New York after they rang the opening bell, Wednesday Dec. 5, 2007

Former DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley made his farewell speech in the Commons last night, insisting Northern Ireland was “moving in the right direction”.

In an 11-minute valedictory speech, Mr Paisley wished for a time when the “Troubles” would be forgotten.

And he paid tribute to the Ulster people as “loving and caring”.

Peter Robinson, the current DUP leader, paid tribute to his predecessor's “colourful career,” describing him as a “colossus” of Northern Ireland politics.

“His name will be remembered in the history of Northern Ireland as one of the most influential figures in unionism,” Mr Robinson said.

“His leadership has been a major factor in bringing Northern Ireland through to the peaceful and stable society we are now enjoying.”

In a parliamentary career dating back to 1970 Mr Paisley often dominated debates on Northern Ireland with feats of towering oratory.

But last night he was in reflective mood before stepping down at the General Election.

He said the day had come when Northern Ireland must face the facts.

“There are people in Northern Ireland who have diverse religious convictions and diverse political convictions — but they can live together as neighbours.

“I am confident that with the good friendship that is in this House towards Northern Ireland that we will go forward and come to a day — I may not live to see it — when these Troubles will be forgotten.”

But he acknowledged there were “deep wounds” still to overcome and insisted: “We won't forget the price that was paid.”

Mr Paisley said: “Northern Ireland is moving in the right direction and this House needs to encourage it to go forward at this time.”

He welcomed the “good work” of various Northern Ireland Secretaries while admitting “some of them we would liked to have punched”.

In debate on parliamentary orders that will enable the creation of a Department for Justice in Northern Ireland, he added: “It doesn't mean we have reached the end of the journey — far from it. But we are in the right way.”

Read more

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* 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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