Sammy Wilson MP mourns passing of ‘friend and mentor’ Ian Paisley

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East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has expressed his condolences to the Paisley family at the loss of their husband, father and grandfather.

Mr Wilson said Rev Ian Paisley’s death represented more to him than the passing of a former party leader and political colleague.

“Dr Paisley was far more than that. He was a friend, mentor, advisor, encourager and inspiration,” the former Finance Minister said.

“Through my father who preached along with him I have known him since I was a boy and never thought that one day I would share in government with him. Over the years it has been a privilege to have benefitted from his kindness, wisdom and encouragement and to have learnt from him the importance of being straightforward and honest with the electorate.

“All of us who served under his leadership saw a man who no matter how often he was attacked for his uncompromising stand on issues which were important to him, never flinched or softened his message just to gain good press. That is why people trusted him and five times in a row gave him the highest vote in European elections.

“At the same time he showed that when hard decisions needed to be made to give the people of Northern Ireland a secure and peaceful future, he was prepared to risk everything because the good of the country was the most important thing to him.

“I will miss him but have happy memories of the laughter he brought into a room, the resolution he gave to people who sometimes were afraid for the future and the strength of character of a man who loved his country and gave a lifetime of service to it,” Mr Wilson concluded.