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Northern Ireland leader Ian Paisley dies aged 88

Northern Ireland leader Ian Paisley dies aged 88
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The former Northern Ireland leader Ian Paisley has died at the age of 88.

For years, Paisley well earned a reputation as a hardline Protestant cleric. He fiercely opposed any concessionary deals with Irish Republicans.

As the leading light of hardline Unionism he wanted to maintain links to the United Kingdom.

Paisley refused to join the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement that paved the way for a power-sharing assembly. At the time he strongly objected to sharing a table with Sinn Fein, the political ally of the IRA militant movement.

He seemed ill-suited to run the province when he became first minister in 2007 after years of opposing reconciliation with Irish Republicans with his mantra of “No Surrender”.

But once in office, he forged an unlikely friendship with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, a senior Sinn Fein figure who said on Twitter “I’ve lost a friend.”