Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Paisley discharged from hospital

Former Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley has spent just over two weeks undergoing treatment at the Ulster Hospital near Belfast

Former Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley has been discharged from hospital, his family said.

Mr Paisley, 87, now known as Lord Bannside, led the DUP into power-sharing at Stormont with Sinn Fein in 2007.

He spent just over two weeks undergoing treatment at the Ulster Hospital near Belfast.

His son Ian Paisley Jnr said: "I am delighted he is back home again and settled. I am very grateful for the wonderful work of the hospital staff."

In February 2012 the former North Antrim MP suffered from heart failure but returned to public life after recovering.

The previous year he had a pacemaker fitted at St Thomas' hospital in London after falling ill at Westminster. Paramedics had to revive him following his collapse in parliament.

Mr Paisley stood down as Northern Ireland's first minister in 2008 and ended 60 years of full-time ministry in January 2012.

The veteran unionist and fundamentalist Protestant preacher has been a colossus of Northern Ireland politics.

He was a divisive figure at a time when an armed conflict which killed thousands was at its worst.

Mr Paisley established the DUP in 1971 and opposed every attempt by successive British and Irish governments to create a power-sharing government between nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland.

But in a dramatic change of heart after the St Andrews agreement in 2006 he indicated that the DUP would share power with their former enemies in Sinn Fein. As a result, he and senior ex-IRA member Martin McGuinness became first and deputy first ministers of Northern Ireland.

They established an unlikely rapport, gaining the nickname "the Chuckle Brothers" because at public events they were often seen smiling and joking together.

Since he stepped down as first minister Mr Paisley has retreated from public life and preached his final sermon as leader of the deeply conservative Free Presbyterian Church which he founded in the 1960s.

When he moved aside as DUP leader he was succeeded by his long-time deputy Peter Robinson.

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