Ian Paisley’s brother dies in Canada

Harold with Ian''Paisley in 2005
Harold with Ian''Paisley in 2005

Harold Paisley, evangelist brother of Rev Ian Paisley, has died in Canada.

The siblings were close and would often discuss theology and politics – although Harold belonged to the Christian Brethren rather than the Free Presbyterian Church founded by his brother.

Harold was the eldest of three children, of whom Margaret is now the only survivor.

He had emigrated in 1966 after converting to evangelical Christianity, and worked as a preacher in Barrie, a city to the north of Ontario.

He had served in both the RAF and the Merchant Navy during World War Two, and Eileen Paisley – widow of Ian – told the News Letter: “He signed up when he was below age – he was a very tall fellow, you see, and it was easy.”

He later joined the RUC, but she said: “He was very affected by his experience of service during the war; it brought him to a very low point in his life.”

One day, in 1944, he had been crossing the road in Belfast’s Royal Avenue when a man next to him was knocked down and killed.

Baroness Paisley said: “The blood was all over Harold’s clothing. That brought him to realising how close he was to death, and how he wasn’t ready to meet God.”

After that he underwent a conversion, during which he took to heart the words of John 3:16 – a verse which he always cherished from then on.

He became a member of the Christian Brethren in Ballymena, and at the age of 21 he was recognised by his fellow members as an evangelist.

Asked why he moved to Canada, Baroness Paisley said: “He said: ‘I like the wide open spaces, and just feel I want into a bigger place’.”

From Canada, he spoke to his brother regularly by telephone.

“They talked to each other all the time about those things [politics and faith]. They had great discussions.

“No matter what they felt differently about, they never argued about it... I think they were an influence on each other.”

She added: “He and Ian were very close, and he would have been broken-hearted about his death, just as Harold was upset about his.”

He had been unwell and was in a care home at the time of Ian’s death, and could not attend the funeral.

He died on Friday night, aged 91. His funeral will be in Canada on Saturday.