Page last updated at 15:19 GMT, Saturday, 31 October 2009

31 May 2008: UUP on Paisley

Northern Ireland Assembly

A warm nod to the Speaker kicked off Ian Paisley's resignation speech to the Assembly.

He said he was grateful for the five minutes afforded to him, which may have seemed paltry given the events within his political lifetime.

He told MLAs he recalled coming to the house 60 years previously to watch a debate, and little did he think he would be sitting in the seat of Northern Ireland's First Minister.

"Words don't mean very much on an occasion like this - it is the emotion of the heart, and the emotion of the mind, and the emotion of the soul," he said.

Thousands of people across the world had sent their best wishes to the North Antrim MP on his resignation as First Minister.

Many of those who had observed events in Northern Ireland from abroad would have regarded the young Ian Paisley as a firebrand preacher, and his other calling as a religious minister was not far from his mind during his speech.

"I return thanks to Almighty God that I have been spared this time to see the progress of this house, to see the progress in Northern Ireland, and to see the future that we can have if we all dedicate ourselves to work for the better good of everyone in this land," he told MLAs.

Never short of a joke, Mr Paisley said Speaker William Hay would have no trouble in throwing any disruptive members out of the Assembly, but noted it was one of the few parliamentary chambers he had not been ejected from.

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