Northern Ireland news

Late Ian Paisley would have sorted Brexit, his widow says

Ian Paisley would have been able to sort out Brexit, his widow has said

FORMER DUP leader Ian Paisley would have been able to sort out Brexit, his widow has said.

Speaking at the unveiling of a sculpture to the ex-First Minister, Eileen Paisley said Northern Ireland would be in a better position if her husband had lived.

Mr Paisley died in September 2014 at the age of 88.

Citing the collapse of Stormont in January 2017 and ongoing confusion over the UK's exit from the European Union, Baroness Paisley told the BBC: "It wouldn't have happened if he'd have been here, that's a fact."

"He would have taken control of Stormont and I don't think the situation would have arisen," she said.

Asked if she thought her late husband would have been able to deal with the ongoing Brexit mess, Baroness Paisley replied: "Yes."

The memorial sculpture, unveiled on Saturday, was made from a wych elm tree from the garden of the Paisley family home in east Belfast.

Baroness Paisley said the tree had to be felled after it "succumbed to age".

"Our daughter Rhonda thought we might be able to use the tree as a memorial piece to Ian, so we began to make that happen."

Liam O'Neill, a woodturner from Spiddal in Co Galway, was commissioned by the Paisley family to make the sculpture.

Another work by Mr O'Neill – a bowl turned from a walnut tree which had stood on the site of the Battle of the Boyne, near Drogheda –was given to the Paisleys in 2006 by former taoiseach Bertie Ahern for their 50th wedding anniversary.

Mr Ahern was among guests who attended the unveiling of the sculpture on what would have been Mr Paisley's 93rd birthday.

The former taoiseach was greeted warmly by Mr Paisley's son Ian Jnr, who gave him a hug.

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