Peter Robinson has said that he understands the Paisleys’ decision to only allow members of the “immediate family” at Ian Paisley’s funeral.
In a statement announcing Dr Paisley’s death today, Baroness Paisley said that it had been her husband’s wish to have such a strictly private burial. The statement said: “According to Ian’s wishes his funeral will be private and attended only by the immediate family, as will be his burial.
“As a family we appreciate that there will be an expectation by those who admired him to express their gratitude for his life and their sorrow at his passing.
“To that end we will in due course publish details of a public memorial service which, will be scheduled later in the year.”
Dr Paisley’s successor as both first minister and DUP leader, Peter Robinson, told the News Letter that he understood the decision.
Asked if he was disappointed that he would not be at the funeral, Mr Robinson said: “I think you’d need to know the Paisley family. This is an entirely close-knit family. Ian loved his family beyond all else — you could see when you were away that Ian would never have put his head on the pillow at night without ringing ‘Mammy’ to see how things were at home.
“When he talked about his children his face would light up — he was very proud of them. And they were protective of him; they were totally supportive of him and all of them loved him massively.”
He added: “I suppose, having given so much of Ian to the public, this is their last opportunity to express and to pay tribute to the man who meant so much in their lives.
“I don’t think anybody would deny them that; I think they have indicated that there will be a public occasion at a later stage where others can have the opportunity to pay tribute to him as well.”