The former leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Dr Ian Paisley has died, his wife said.
Eileen Paisley said the family was heartbroken.
Dr Paisley was a firebrand fundamentalist Protestant preacher and politician who led opposition to compromise with the IRA for decades in Northern Ireland.
He became a peacemaker when he entered government with Sinn Fein at Stormont as first minister following a landmark deal.
He has been ill for some time.
Baroness Paisley said: “My beloved husband, Ian, entered his eternal rest this morning.
“Although ours is the grand hope of reunion, naturally as a family we are heartbroken.
“We loved him and he adored us, and our earthly lives are forever changed.”
Dr Paisley was aged 88 when he died. He led opposition to any accommodation with republicans for decades and his fiery rhetoric was legendary.
As charismatic leader of the strongly Christian DUP he opposed successive political deals including the Anglo Irish and Good Friday Agreements but agreed to powersharing with Sinn Fein in 2007 following that party’s acceptance of the new police force.
He was elected to Westminster in 1970 as the Protestant Unionist MP for North Antrim. A year later he founded the Democratic Unionist Party which he led until 2008. In 1979 he was elected to the European Parliament where his views on the Catholic Church caused controversy - most notably when he denounced Pope John Paul II as the “anti-Christ” during a visit to the parliament in 1988.
He played a key role in orchestrating the Ulster Workers’ Council Strike which brought Northern Ireland to a standstill in 1973 and was vehemently opposed to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement and accused the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher of a betrayal of unionists after she signed the deal which gave the Irish government an advisory role in Northern Ireland.
Even though he was also opposed to the 1998 Good Friday peace accord which eventually ended the Troubles, Mr Paisley ended up sharing power with Sinn Fein when he and his bitter rival Martin McGuinness became First and Deputy First Ministers in 2007.
Mr McGuinness expressed regret and sadness.
“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.
“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.
“I want to send my sincere sympathy to his wife, Eileen, his children and extended family.”
Mike Nesbitt, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said: “There will be plenty of time to reflect on Ian Paisley’s impact on the shaping of the modern Northern Ireland and its relations with our nearest neighbours, but today is a time to give the Paisley household space to mourn.
“My sympathies to Baroness Paisley and the family.”
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, a TD in the Irish parliament, said he was deeply shocked and saddened at Dr Paisley’s death.
“There will be plenty of time for political analysis but at this point I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to Ian’s wife Eileen and to the Paisley family at this very sad time,” he added.
Stormont justice minister David Ford said he was a dedicated political representative who served the people of North Antrim for over four decades.
“This was a huge period of time working on behalf of his constituents. His passing marks t he end of the era, Northern Ireland politics will not be the same following his death.
“He was one of the biggest names in Northern Ireland and British politics.
“He was a larger than life character, whose presence was felt in any room he was in.
“Although many of us opposed his actions for many years, he played a key role in getting the Northern Ireland Assembly back on track in 2007 and I commended him for his work and effort in achieving this.”