Adams Praises Paisley As ‘Ceasar’

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By John Coulter, Irish Political Journalist

Retiring First Minister and hell fire fundamentalist preacher Rev Ian Paisley has been hailed as a political Caesar – by Sinn Fein President and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams.

Adams made his remarks as Paisley senior formally stepped down as the North’s First Minister after just over a year in the post.

Paisley senior will still continue as an Assembly member and Westminster MP for his North Antrim constituency. There has even been some speculation Paisley may return as Moderator, or leader, of his fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church.

While Paisley has been a life-long critic of Sinn Fein, Adams was glowing in his tributes to the former DUP boss, who once championed an election campaign based on the slogan ‘Smash Sinn Fein.’

Adams said: ‘Ian Paisley has been a part of the political landscape in the north for as long as I can remember. He may be pleased to know that it was his desire to visit the Falls Road, Divis Street, in 1964 that first whetted my interest in Irish politics.

‘His journey from those days to where he now sits have been well chronicled. And my views on his role for most of his career are also well known.

‘Except perhaps to note – and he will forgive me for this – that he is the living proof of why a politician should never say never, or “never, never, never”.

‘I want to commend Ian Paisley. Today is a day to praise Caesar not to bury him. So, I want to thank Ian Paisley for the way he fulfilled his role as First Minister, alongside Martin McGuinness.

‘He certainly had a lot to put up with. I also want to commend Martin McGuinness who also had a lot to put up with.

Both these leaders together proved that politics can work and that far from being the “problem parties”, derided by begrudgers and naysayers, Sinn Féin and the DUP proved that progress could be planned and achieved, and that difficulties can be overcome.

‘And there is a public expectation that this will continue to be the case in the time ahead. And that is a huge challenge for all the parties represented here, and especially for your successor and the rest of us.

‘Ian Paisley and I did not meet until recent times and he did not talk to me directly until March 26th last year when we agreed the arrangements which led to the re-establishment of the political institutions.

‘Throughout all of our engagements I have always found him cordial and respectful. And I am convinced that the good humour and grace and enthusiasm he displayed in public, was good for public confidence, and for all the people of this island.

‘There is an seanfhocail or proverb in the Irish language – Is fear feasach, go cinnte, é an duine a h’athraíonn treo ar leas an phobail agus is fear adhúil é an duine, a mhaireann fada go leor le tairbhe a bhaint as – It’s a wise man who can change direction for the common good and it’s a lucky man who lives long enough to enjoy it,’ said Adams.