Local DUP representatives have paid tribute to their former party leader Rev Dr Ian Paisley who died today (Friday) at the age of 88.
In a statement, his wife Baroness Paisley said her “beloved husband” had “entered his eternal rest” on Friday morning.
“Although ours is the grand hope of reunion, naturally as a family we are heartbroken,” she said. “We loved him and he adored us, and our earthly lives are forever changed.”
Baroness Paisley said that his funeral would be private.
Party colleague Cllr Carla Lockhart, on behalf of the DUP Council group in Craigavon and the ABC Council, said, “It is with great sadness that I make this comment on behalf of the DUP Council groupings. Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with the Paisley family and the wider family circle.
“Doctor Paisley the founder of our party was someone we held in the highest regard, he was a father like figure to us all and he will be sadly missed. I pray that God will sustain his family in this time of grief.
“Doctor Paisley brought us on a journey and I know that his memory will live on in the annals of history. He was a political giant and someone who helped bring real peace to Northern Ireland but above he was someone of great faith and we know that it is absent from the body and present with the Lord.”
Stephen Moutray MLA said: “Doctor Paisley was a colossus in Northern Ireland and has been for the last 50 years.
“His impact on this province has been immense both in the spiritual and political realm.
“!I first encountered Doctor Paisley as a student in the mid 70s and over the years through my political involvement had the privilege of working with him closely. I would count him as a dear friend who will be missed by many and although sometimes controversial he only ever had the desire to help people and to make Northern Ireland a better and stronger place within the United Kingdom.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Baroness Paisley and the family circle at this very difficult time.”
Speaking following the news of the passing of The Rt Hon Doctor Paisley, David Simpson Member of Parliament for Upper Bann said,
“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Doctor Paisley. He was a true friend of Ulster and a great servant of the Lord.
“I have known Dr Paisley from a very early age and the impact he has had on my life will never be forgotten. He has taken Ulster through a remarkable journey where he has been able to stand firm against his enemies. Throughout his political leadership, Dr Paisley has ensured that his Christian values and principals were paramount to the decisions that he made.
“The impact he has had will be felt not only in Northern Ireland but right across the globe. He will be sadly missed by his entire family circle and I can assure them of my thoughts and prayers at this time.”