Martin McGuinness, his former deputy minister, has paid tribute to the peace-building of his later life

The Rev Ian Paisley, Protestant firebrand and former leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, has died at the age of 88.

The Rev Paisley served as First Minister of Northern Ireland for a year when power was first devolved in 2007.

His deputy, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin, expressed sadness at the news of his death.

“Over a number of decades we were political opponents and held very different views on many, many issues but the one thing we were absolutely united on was the principle that our people were better able to govern themselves than any British government,” he said.

“I want to pay tribute to and comment on the work he did in the latter days of his political life in building agreement and leading unionism into a new accommodation with republicans and nationalists.

“In the brief period that we worked together in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, I developed a close working relationship with him which developed into a friendship, which despite our many differences lasted beyond his term in office.”

Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper, said the Rev Paisley had “fanned the flames of hatred and murder”.