Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reverend Ian Paisley to stand down as MP after 40 years at Westminster, a remarkable career by any standards

Dear All

One of the most recognisable and outspoken politicians in Northern Ireland is Ian Paisley.

He is a firebrand who has been a towering figure in Northern Ireland’s political realm, even at 83 years old.

As founder of the Democratic Unionist Party, he has been at the forefront of speaking up for the people of Northern Ireland, a passionate supporter of his cause.

A man surrounded by controversial decisions when he agreed in 2007 to share power with Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional IRA.

And it cost him dear, he lost leadership of the DUP and the Free Presbyterian Church, both of which he founded.

He first won his seat to Westminster in 1970; it has been a rollercoaster ride of 40 years.

But away from the shouting, I would like people to remember that behind the figure that famously shouted, ‘no, no, no’, there was a very good elected politician who served his community with distinction as an MP.

Ian Paisley told his constituency newspaper the Ballymena Guardian it had been a privilege to represent the area but it was time for a new generation of politicians to build on his legacy.

In the history of Northern Ireland, his name will be remembered for the brave decision to go into government with Sinn Fein.

Looking back on his political career, he said that he had “no regrets” about the landmark decision to go into power with Sinn Fein three years ago.

He said;

“After a period of tough negotiations it was my view that, provided our conditions were met, the overwhelming majority of the people of Northern Ireland wanted me to do the deal, it was as simple as that.”

And Northern Ireland and its people have in the most part seen the end of terrorism that so blighted the community.

Few people become giants in politics and last so long as Ian Paisley, he had a remarkable career.

I think they will be many on both sides of the political divide who will wish him a long and happy retirement.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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