Unionists unite to mourn at MP's funeral

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Unionists put their differences over the Ulster peace process to one side today as they bade farewell to "the quiet man" of Northern Ireland politics, Clifford Forsythe.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and his parliamentary colleagues joined hundreds of mourners at the funeral the South Antrim MP who died suddenly on Thursday aged 70.

Also among those who turned out to pay their last respects were Democratic Unionist leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, and Eddie McGrady, a member of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party.

Mr Forsythe's family asked the press to stay away the low key service at St Patrick's Parish Church, Templepatrick, Co Antrim.

Former party leader, Lord Molyneaux - a close political ally of Mr Forsythe and unlike Mr Trimble a fellow opponent of the Good Friday peace deal - delivered an eulogy.

A former soccer player, Mr Forsythe was a highly respected constituency representative but also the most low-profile MP in Northern Ireland.

He was the party's transport spokesman and also a member of Westminster committees on social security, and environment, transport and the regions.

South Antrim is a unionist stronghold, which Mr Forsythe won by a majority of 16,000 votes in the 1997 general election.

However the battle for the seat left vacant by his death could turn into another bitter round of recriminations between pro and anti-Agreement factions of unionism.