Good wishes for Ian Paisley flow in from across the divide
Ian Paisley spent his fifth night in hospital last night after being admitted on Sunday with heart trouble.
Prayers for the former First Minister have come in from all sides of the community and from those who knew him well.
Lord Bannside was admitted to the Ulster Hospital at Dundonald on Sunday and was then transferred to the intensive care unit.
The 85-year-old’s close family have remained at his bedside.
On Wednesday his wife Baroness Paisley encouraged the congregation at the east Belfast church which he founded to continue to pray for her husband.
Friend and colleague the Rev Alan Smylie — who held the service at the Ravenhill Road church — said he had been inundated with inquiries for Mr Paisley since he was admitted to hospital.
“People in the street who know me have stopped me and been asking how he is,” he added.
“It’s people across the board — it doesn’t matter. A gentleman rang and said I just want to ask you how he is. There was also a letter from a man from down south asking how he was.”
Earlier, the new moderator of the Presbyterian Church the Rev Roy Patton expressed his best wishes for the Rev Ian Paisley and his family.
"We have had our differences in the past but it would be inappropriate to dwell on those differences at the present time but rather recognise the qualities that Dr Paisley has brought to his ministry, his faith, his pastoral word and his desire to serve in the ways in which we all seek to serve," he said.
"We want to convey to Dr Paisley and to Baroness Paisley and to the family our support and our prayers."
The former Assembly first minister set up the Free Presbyterian Church in 1951 after a split with the main Presbyterian Church.
Free Presbyterianism was established after a conflict between some members of a congregation in Crossgar, Co Down, and the Presbyterian church over the use of a church hall.
Mr Paisley was MP for north Antrim for almost 40 years.
End of the Carson Trial Phase 11. Ian Paisley at Stormont Rally. 283/81.
There had been concerns several years ago about Mr Paisley's health, when he lost weight and looked gaunt.
But he made a good recovery from heart problems and while his voice was showing signs of obvious weakness, some people who were there for his farewell sermon at the Martyrs Memorial Church in Belfast on January 27 remarked on how well he appeared for his age.
After withdrawing from church and public life he was planning to write his autobiography.