First, I wish well the Speaker and Minister Kennedy, who are unwell at this time. The greatest tribute to Ian Paisley will not be in the eloquent speeches of people in this Chamber or, indeed, in the well-crafted words of Prime Ministers or statesmen. The greatest tribute to Ian Paisley will be those simple tributes that will come and have come from many men and women over the weekend that they came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through hearing the preaching of Ian Paisley. I had the privilege from being a very young boy of hearing that preaching. He spoke with fire and fervour, with passion and compassion and with power and conviction, and his impact was felt right across Northern Ireland but well beyond Northern Ireland. My sister was one of those who came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through his preaching. She ended up taking the gospel to the people in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. In Brazil, many lepers were healed as a result of the work of Bill Woods, who went out there on the support of Ian Paisley and many others. People in the slums of Manila, and people in the mountains of Nepal. That was the spread of the man. It was not just Northern Ireland but has been a worldwide spread. Locally, many a drunkard, a gambler and a wife-beater sought Jesus Christ after hearing the preaching of Ian Paisley, which made a remarkable difference to families.
He looked on his political opponents as people who could be redeemed because he knew that the apostle Paul was a man who called himself the greatest sinner and was actually involved in the killing of people. He knew that anybody could find forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ, and he wanted to spread that gospel, irrespective of who it was. My father first stood with Ian Paisley in 1969 as a Protestant Unionist, and he entered this Chamber in 1973 in the old Northern Ireland Assembly. He walked in with him, and he was carried out with him. I then had the privilege of walking in with him in 1998 and of being with him right through until he retired in 2008. The more I got to know Ian Paisley, the more I liked the man. That is not a trait that always happens. He was more than a colleague. He was caring, he was kind and he was wise. He could be quite crafty. For me, he was a friend, a brother and a mentor, but most of all he was a spiritual father. I had the opportunity of spending time with the family yesterday. As we recalled stories, we laughed and considered various things. We mourned, and we wept.
As we gather today to remember Ian Paisley, we owe it to him and to future generations to carry through the work that he has done and to ensure that it is not undone. He wanted peace in our land and peace in people's hearts. There is a great work still to be done, and it is our duty to do it.
That was the type of man that Dr Paisley was. He had the most enormous energy. No one can understand how anyone could work as hard as Dr Paisley. He often joked and said that he had a day's work done before most men were out of their bed, and I can confirm that that is true. He never seemed to sleep. He would regularly ring you at 1.00 am or 2.00 am asking for something to be done.
I also saw the spiritual side of Dr Paisley. I was in Rathfriland campaigning, and he heard that someone who admired him greatly but was not a member of his Church was facing the valley of the shadow of death and was about to pass away from cancer. He dropped everything and went to that house. I will never forget the comfort, succour and support he gave to that family. No one could handle that type of situation better than Dr Paisley. While thousands of people from Northern Ireland will bless the day that they attended a mission or service at which Dr Paisley preached, there are many other thousands whom we will not hear about who have passed through into death with comfort and support from Dr Paisley. No one could do that better.
I have so many memories over the last 40 years. Northern Ireland, Ulster, the United Kingdom and Ireland are much poorer places for his passing. There will never be another Ian Paisley. Even if Ian Paisley had been nothing more than a carpenter or a plumber, he would have been well known in his community, but he was so much more. I will find it an enormous privilege to tell my grandchildren that I knew Ian Paisley. I think that it is a great honour to be able to say that.
Many legal and prescription drugs contain opiates, for example. Individuals buy prescription drugs from people who indicated that they were unwell and had their doctor prescribe those drugs, which are broken up and used to supply the market. Indeed, when there was a problem with drug dealers getting heroin, they were quick to do that. We need to be aware that drug dealers are very sharp and are right up there when it comes to innovative ways to get their hands on product to sell. We also need to be very innovative in how we challenge them. Our primary care providers — GPs — have to be conscious of all that goes on when they prescribe some of these drugs. They must seek to ensure that such drugs will be properly utilised and will not be used by individuals who will cause harm to others. We are aware of these problems, and people are seeking to address them. Those courses of work will continue.
It is absolutely critical that parents keep themselves informed of drugs, alcohol misuse or the misuse of the Internet and that they provide support to their children. Despite repeated warnings from the Public Health Agency (PHA), the PSNI and the Chief Medical Officer, it is clear that people continue to take these substances, risking their health and well-being. Information on alcohol and drug misuse is included in the school curriculum as part of a broader life skills approach, and evidence shows that this is the best way to address the issue in schools.
I appreciate that some believe that we should have a hard-hitting media campaign to highlight the dangers of drug misuse, similar to those undertaken on road safety. However, evidence shows that, at best, campaigns on substance misuse are ineffective. Often, those who take drugs feel that such campaigns do not match their experience, and they therefore disregard them. At worst, there is some evidence that such campaigns can increase awareness of available substances and lead to increased risk-taking and drug-seeking behaviours. Therefore, we need to be very careful. Our mantra must be: do no harm.
I will ask the Public Health Agency to revisit the evidence base and look at how best it can continue to get the messages out there, particularly to young people, to ensure that they never start to take drugs and, therefore, do not become hooked on this scourge.
Ballinderry, Ballymacash, Ballymacbrennan, Ballymacoss, Blaris, Derryaghy, Dromara, Dromore North, Dromore South, Drumbo, Glenavy, Gransha, Harmony Hill, Hilden, Hillhall, Hillsborough, Knockmore, Lagan Valley, Lambeg, Lisnagarvey, Maghaberry, Magheralave, Maze, Moira, Old Warren, Quilly, Seymour Hill, Tonagh, Wallace Park.