Ian Paisley's funeral to take place in Belfast

Ian Paisley

Ian Paisley, the former first minister of Northern Ireland, will be buried on Monday after a private funeral at his family home in east Belfast.

The preacher-politician founder of the Democratic Unionist party died on Friday after a long illness. He will be laid to rest in County Down.

A book of condolences will open this morning at Belfast city hall as well as several other cities and towns across the region.

On Sunday, a prayer service was held at the church Paisley founded in east Belfast, the Martyrs' Memorial, to remember the man who also created the hardline Free Presbyterian Church.

Prayers were said for Paisley and his family in the same church where he was ousted in an internal coup in 2011 after elders objected to his compromises with Sinn Féin.

Reaction to Paisley's legacy has been mixed, with the deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, stating on Friday that he had lost a friend after the death of the 88-year-old.

Former prime ministers from both sides of the Irish Sea joined politicians, including his former enemies in Sinn Féin, in praising Paisley for making the journey from opponent of compromise to peacemaker who secured a power-sharing devolution government in 2006-07.

Among those recalling Paisley's latter years of compromise and co-operation was the former US president Bill Clinton. "I was saddened to learn of the death of Ian Paisley, whose remarkable political career carried him from being the leader of hardline unionism to his service as first minister of the Northern Ireland assembly, which was marked by his good working relationship with Martin McGuinness," he said.

"In the end, the once-polarising Paisley demonstrated that reconciliation and cooperation is better than conflict and discord. That is how he advanced peace for the people he loved so much."

Others, however, accused the former first minister of helping to trigger the Troubles through his opposition to the reformist demands of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and his willingness to deploy thousands of hardline unionists on to the streets.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent, for theguardian.com on Monday 15th September 2014 09.18 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010