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New Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley portraits unveiled

 Portraits of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness by painter Colin Davidson

NEW portraits of the late Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness have been unveiled by a leading Belfast artist.

Colin Davidson said the former First Minister and deputy First Minister sat for him several years ago and he insisted the paintings should only be displayed side by side.

The artist has painted dozens of portraits of public figures including the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, Hollywood star Brad Pitt and singer Ed Sheeran.

He also exhibited 'Silent Testimony' - paintings of 18 people who suffered loss during the Troubles.

Mr Davidson tweeted: "These men (Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness) sat for me in 2014 & 2015, each displaying a genuine affection for the other. I stipulated that their portraits would only be hung together. They agreed."

Mr Paisley, former leader of the DUP, died in 2014 while Mr McGuinness, a former Sinn Féin MP, died in March 2017.

Mr Davidson also painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth which the British monarch unveiled in front of Mr McGuinness and DUP leader Arlene Foster.

A new portrait of Martin McGuinness by Belfast artist Colin Davidson

Artist Colin Davidson's new portrait of Ian Paisley

He told the BBC he was concerned that Brexit had led to a cooling of British-Irish relations, compared to the warmth shown during the queen's first state visit to the Republic in 2011.

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