Stormont leaders pay tribute to Paisley as ‘Big Man’ laid to rest
Political parties from all sides offered heartfelt thoughts on the churchman and politician’s legacy at a special sitting of the Stormont Assembly yesterday as the family held a private funeral in Belfast.
Mr Robinson said the founder of the Democratic Unionists was head and shoulders above all others. “Ian Paisley was a remarkable man whose long career in public life has left an indelible mark on all of us who knew him.
“The ‘Big Man’ as he was known, provided firm and decisive leadership when Unionism lacked it most and needed it most.”
The Paisley family held a private service at their home in Belfast before burial in Ballygowan, Co Down.
A public memorial service will be held later in the year, the family have said.
Books of condolences were opened yesterday in the City Hall in Belfast and also at Stormont.
Mr Paisley died last Friday at the age of 88.
Former IRA commander and current Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said his professional relationship and friendship with Mr Paisley should provide food for thought with the Stormont Executive dogged by political stalemate.
The Sinn Fein chief said he would leave history to determine Mr Paisley’s legacy.
“I can only talk about my own experience with him,” Mr McGuinness said. “From the word go for some reason we hit it off.
“We grew to like each other and that, incredible for people undoubtedly who for many decades intensely disliked each other. But we genuinely grew to like each other and in doing so we confounded the world. He certainly made a huge effort.”
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams: said: “Many families who suffered the worst excesses of sectarianism may take issue with this, but Ian Paisley is due recognition for reaching agreement with Irish Republicans on a peaceful future.”