Paisley remains seriously ill with heart condition


PETER ROBINSON and Martin McGuinness were yesterday in contact with the Paisley family as they maintained their vigil at the Ulster Hospital in east Belfast where the Rev Ian Paisley last night remained seriously ill with heart problems.

The North’s first minister and Deputy First Minister called on the community to give “prayerful support” to 85-year-old Dr Paisley and to his family and offered their best wishes to the former First Minister and DUP leader.

Dr Paisley, now Lord Bannside, last night remained in the intensive care unit of the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald. He was rushed to the hospital on Sunday after suffering severe cardiac problems.

Politicians of all parties were yesterday keeping abreast of any news of Dr Paisley’s condition. All local newspapers led with his illness yesterday while the BBC and UTV reported hourly on his condition, despite the fact there was little detail about his health.

The DUP Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster also offered her good wishes. “Obviously we are all praying and thinking of the family and of Dr Paisley at this time,” she said.

Dr Paisley delivered his final sermon at the Martyrs’ Memorial Church on the Ravenhill Road in south Belfast on Friday week. Some 3,000 people turned up to hear Dr Paisley speak of how it had been a privilege for him to have been a preacher at the church for more than 60 years.

He said he was planning to write his autobiography. He appeared slightly frail that night but was in good humour when speaking to former members of his Free Presbyterian congregation and when sitting alongside his wife, Baroness Eileen Paisley and his five children.

However, he was taken to the hospital for treatment on Sunday. Last year he had a pacemaker inserted after becoming ill in the House of Lords.

Baroness Paisley has appealed for family privacy at this “difficult time”. The Ulster Hospital has not issued any bulletins about his condition. Sources however said he was seriously ill.

Members of the family, including Ian Paisley jnr who succeeded Dr Paisley as MP for North Antrim, spent Monday night at the hospital. He took a break yesterday evening but did not speak to the press when he left the hospital. Family members were also at the hospital last night.

In his lengthy church and political career Dr Paisley was founder and moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, which he founded in 1951, was MP for North Antrim for 40 years, and was founder and leader of the DUP for 37 years.

In 2007 he agreed an historic powersharing deal with the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. With Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness as Deputy first minister he was appointed first minister in May 2007, standing down a year later when his longtime deputy Peter Robinson succeeded him.