On learning of the death of the Rev Ian Paisley, Lord Bannside, I wish to express my sympathy first and foremost to his wife Eileen, Baroness Paisley, and her family.
Whilst his historic legacy in terms of his interaction with the Catholic community was at times controversial, his contribution to the search for peace and political stability in Northern Ireland was, in the end, crucial. He made an immense contribution to local, Westminster and European politics and will be particularly remembered by his local constituents, from all sections of the community, for his commitment in representing their concerns.
He was a man marked by strong convictions and evangelical zeal, fearless in taking a principled stand on issues such as marriage and the family as well as the sanctity of human life at all stages, matters on which he often expressed his agreement with the Catholic Church.
Dr Paisley has left an indelible mark on the history of the relationship between the Unionist and Nationalist traditions on this island. I will hold his family and all those affected by his passing in my prayers at this time of loss.
Bishop of Down and Connor