(b. 1926) Northern Irish clergyman and politician, First Minister of Northern Ireland 2007–8
Northern Irish clergyman; First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2007. He became a minister of the Free Presbyterian Church in 1946, and its leader from 1951 to 2007. Paisley first became politically active in the 1960s and was elected to the Northern Irish parliament (1970–72) and the House of Commons in London (1970–85; 1986– ). A co-founder of the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party (1972), he has been an outspoken defender of the Protestant Unionist position in Northern Ireland. Paisley was a Member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 2004. From 1998 he was a vocal opponent of most aspects of the Good Friday Agreement. However, he became a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly it established and in 2007 agreed to take his party into a power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein. He became First Minister of the Executive in May 2003.