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Ian Paisley

Ian Richard Kyle Paisley was born in Armagh (Northern Ireland), the son of a Baptist minister, and was educated at the Model School and Technical High School in Ballymena, the South Wales Bible College, and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological College in Belfast.

He preached his first sermon at the age of 16, and in 1951 established the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster in Belfast.

When Catholic civil-rights agitation began to flourish in the 1960s, Paisley organised numerous marches and speeches in opposition, which led to his imprisonment for six weeks in 1968 for unlawful assembly.

In April 1970, one year into ”the Troubles” in Northern Ireland, Paisley won the seat for Bannside in Northern Ireland’s Stormont assembly, and he went on to win the North Antrim seat two months later.

The following year, he established the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) as a more hardline rival to the ruling dominant Ulster Unionist Party.

He was influential in the actions of the Ulster Workers” Council and their general strike, which destroyed the Sunningdale Power Sharing Initiative in 1974.

Paisley’s powerful speeches and image of strength won him great support within the Protestant community and he scored overwhelming victories in both the 1979 and 1984 European elections, polling around one-third of the first-preference votes each time.

Throughout the 1980s, Paisley stuck rigidly to his ”no surrender” policies, resigning his seat in 1985 in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

He re-entered Parliament early the following year. His Presbyterian beliefs were inextricably bound up with his political aims, and in 1988 he was ejected from the European Parliament for interrupting an address by Pope John Paul II.

Paisley was deeply sceptical of the various initiatives to solve the problems of Northern Ireland, particularly those involving any ”sell-out”, in his view, to the Dublin government or Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

He opposed the 1998 Good Friday Agreement on power-sharing in Northern Ireland and in the May 1998 referendum his North Antrim constituency was the only one of Northern Ireland’s 18 seats in which there was a majority against the accord.

He went on to lead the opposition to the agreement within the new Northern Ireland Assembly.

Paisley died on 12 September 2014, aged 88.