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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby pays tribute to Protestant leader Ian Paisley

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has described firebrand Protestant leader Ian Paisley as a passionate and courageous man of "deep faith”.

He was speaking shortly after Dr Paisley, who founded Northern Ireland’s Free Presbyterian Church and Democratic Unionist Party, died on Friday at the age of 88.

Dr Welby said: “He was a passionate advocate for his community, a parliamentarian who made his presence felt in our national life and a man of deep faith.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

“History will remember him for many things but above all for having the courage, when he judged the moment to be right, of taking the difficult but vital steps towards reconciliation.

“I would like to convey my condolences to Baroness Paisley and the family on the sad news that Dr Ian Paisley has died.”

Dr Paisley came to prominence in the 60s for his fiery rhetoric. He once described the Pope as “Old Red Socks, the great whore with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication”.

Later after he became an MEP, he branded the EU a “beast ridden by the harlot Catholic Church”.

In the late 1990s he worked with Sinn Fein to formulate the Good Friday Agreement which was instrumental the Northern Ireland peace process.

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