The remarkable resurgence of Ian Paisley
Just weeks ago he was fighting for his life in hospital but former First Minister Ian Paisley has shown he is now well on the road to recovery.
The 85-year-old peer, who spent three weeks in the Ulster Hospital’s intensive care unit after a heart scare, has been pictured at home in east Belfast laughing, joking and enjoying life with his wife, Baroness Eileen Paisley.
The photographs are the first to be released of the former Free Presbyterian Church moderator since he was discharged from hospital.
He fell ill just 10 days after preaching his final sermon as a church minister at the Martyrs’ Memorial Church on Belfast’s Ravenhill Road at the beginning of February. He was rushed to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald suffering from suspected heart failure.
At one point Lord Bannside was described as “gravely ill” and his family were called to his bedside.
Thanking the public for their support during her husband’s time in hospital, Baroness Paisley said in a statement: “My family and I are delighted that my husband has been able to return home.
“It is not possible to put into words the depth of our gratitude to those responsible who cared for him these past three weeks, nor can we express sufficiently our thanks to all those who have sent their good wishes and prayers.
“We thank the media for giving us privacy during his time in hospital, and ask that he continues to have time and space to fully recuperate.”
Among those to wish him well last night was South Down MLA Jim Wells. He said: “I think we should hand Dr Paisley another 20-year contract and then review the situation after that.
“It is great to see him back at home. It’s miraculous as just a month ago people were desperately fearful, as he was exceptionally ill. There were thousands of people praying for him and wishing him well and I suppose this just goes to prove that you cannot keep a good man down.
“It is a remarkable turnaround and I fully expect to see him up at Stormont some day soon.”
Former junior minister Robin Newton said: “It is extremely pleasing to see Dr Paisley returning from hospital and I wish him a full return to strength, believing he still has a huge contribution to make to life in Northern Ireland.”
Ian Paisley stepped down as First Minister in 2008 and entered the House of Lords as Lord Bannside.
He retired from preaching in January to write his memoirs.