Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is among those who have signed the book of condolences for the late Ian Paisley.
The Sinn Fein politician wrote that he 'lost a friend' and was 'rising above old enmities' when he paid the tribute in Derry.
The book of condolence was opened today to allow people to pay tribute to Ian Paisley who passed away yesterday
A similar tribute will be held at Belfast City Hall on Monday for the man who was loved and loathed in equal measure across the North and beyond.
The 88 year-old former First Minister of Northern Ireland will be buried this week at what his family have insisted will be a “private funeral”. The decision by his widow Baroness Bannside and his family circle is interpreted as an indication of the bitterness and division between the Paisley family and the Democratic Unionist Party and the Free Presbyterian Church both of which he founded.
One of the first to sign the book of condolences in Derry was the city’s Mayor Brenda Stevenson who said that while she did not share Dr. Paisley’s political views she nevertheless admired his “tireless commitment and energy to working for the best for the people of Northern Ireland”.
Another who was expected to sign the tribute was Martin McGuinness who shared the office of First and Deputy First Minister with Ian Paisley at Stormont before he stood down from the role and the leadership of the DUP. Their display of good humour when they appeared in public together saw them dubbed “the chuckle brothers” because of their frequent outbursts of laughter.
The former IRA commander in Derry who said “I have lost a friend” is understood to have visited the Paisley family home recently to view the former DUP leader’s new library.
Despite being united in expressing tributes to the firebrand preacher and renown public orator in the wake of his death opinion is divided within and without the DUP over his political achievements, the pinnacle of which is viewed internationally as his creation of a government at Stormont between his party and Sinn Fein.
His family’s insistence that the funeral of the North’s former First Minister will be private is interpreted in some quarters as a deliberate snub to those in the party and in the Free Presbyterian Church who ousted him from the leadership positions in both.
The absence from the funeral of his long time lieutenant Peter Robinson who as much as Paisley transformed the DUP from a bible bashing fringe Unionist party to a party of government would be interpreted as a major snub although final funeral details have not been divulged.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has told how Ian Paisley never regretted his change of stance though he "paid a price" and was left a lonely figure at the end of his days, "totally alienated" from his church, his party and most of his friends.
"Ulster will never see the like of him again: a giant of a human being, a true Ulsterman with an immeasurable love for the province and its people," DUP leader Peter Robinson said in tribute to Ian Paisley, hailing him as the founding father of a new North.
There are a few moments borne out of sheer nerves that are destined to stay with you forever. A bright and sunny spring afternoon on Wednesday April 3, 2007 was one of those days. The Irish contingent of the Northern Ireland negotiating team gathered to witness what we hoped would be the first public handshake between Ian Paisley, the then-leader of the DUP and the then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
Some say religion and politics should not mix. But one cannot fully understand Ian Paisley without understanding biblical tradition from which he sprang. Calculation, religious conviction and the changed perception of paramilitarism after 9/11, explain why Dr Ian Paisley eventually became 'Dr Yes'
IAN PAISLEY's political career was a resounding success. In April 1969 he ran his first parliamentary campaign against Terence O'Neill, Northern Ireland's bridge-building prime minister, in the Bannside seat for the Stormont Assembly.