Ian Paisley

Rev Ian Paisley is a Northern Irish pastor and politician renowned for his strong Protestant views.

Ian Paisley was born in Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1927 into a Baptist manse. After an evangelical conversion in childhood he studied in Wales and the Reformed Presbyterian Hall in Belfast. In 1946 he was ordained as the pastor of a church on the Ravenhill Road, Belfast and remains so today.

In the 1950s he co-founded the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster following the failure of Lisarra Presbyterian Church to allow him to hold a mission in their buildings. One of the hallmarks of Free Presbyterianism has been an attempt to remain committed to a strict fundamentalism against modernism and Roman Catholicism whilst also being Calvinistic. Paisley was imprisoned for some of his protests during the 1960s and while in Crumlin Road Gaol he produed a commentary on Romans. Paisley served as the long time moderator of the Free Presbyterian denomination. In the 1980s he interrupted Pope John Paul II by means of a protest in the European Parliament.

In the 1970s he co-founded the Democratic Unionist Party whose main aim is to retain the union of Northern Ireland with Great Britain. As leader of the DUP Paisley campaigned unsuccessfully against UK membership of the European Union, homosexuality and Sunday Opening. He has been variously elected to the Northern Ireland Parliament/Assembly, the Westminster Parliament in London and also to the European Parliament. He served as First Minister for Northern Ireland

In the 1980s Paisley campaigned under the slogan "Smash Sinn Fein" aimed at removing Irish Republican terrorists from having any say in the running of Northern Ireland. Following the Belfast Agreement and gradual electoral gains the DUP became the largest political party in Northern Ireland and eventually chose to join a power sharing Government with former enemies. However within a short period Paisley resigned from leadership of both church and political party.