Shaun Woodward pays tribute to Ian Paisley

Dr Ian Paisley watched by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and then Prime Minister Tony Blair

Dr Ian Paisley watched by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and then Prime Minister Tony Blair

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St Helens MP and former Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward has paid tribute to Ian Paisley, who has died aged 88.

The firebrand Ulsterman was one of the dominate figures of Northern Ireland politics over the past five decades.

He passed away on Friday after a short illness, his family said.

Mr Woodward worked closely with the unionist leader during his time as Northern Ireland Secretary and hailed him as a “giant” of Northern Ireland politics.

“We are all deeply saddened by the very sad news of the death of Ian Paisley,” said Mr Woodward.

“Ian was a giant. He loved Northern Ireland with a passion. Truly a great figure in political life. But equally a great man to his family and friends.

“Without his steadfast and dedicated commitment to bringing peace to Northern Ireland, the extraordinary steps - which today hallmark both the peace process and the political process - might never have been made.

“Our politics has truly lost a great statesman and a true public servant.

“Ian’s devout faith always guided him. Ian too truly loved and adored his family.

“At this time my sympathy and heart goes out to Ian’s family; and especially Eileen, who was his rock and lodestar.

“We will all miss him.”