herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Paisley's family spend night at his hospital bedside

THE family of Dr Ian Paisley spent the night at his bedside in a Belfast hospital.

The former first minister of Northern Ireland and DUP leader is being treated in intensive care for acute heart problems.

His son Ian Paisley Junior, who replaced him as North Antrim MP, said this morning he spent the night at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald but did not elaborate on his father's condition.

Dr Paisley's wife Eileen is being supported by her five children as concern continued about the former leader's condition.

A source said Dr Paisley's illness could be linked to heart failure, not a heart attack. It is believed he had been suffering from heart problems -- almost a year after being fitted with a pacemaker.

Dr Paisley has been on medication for several years for an enlarged heart, possibly since 2004.

A statement on behalf of Mrs Paisley declared last night: "She requests that the family's privacy be respected at this difficult time."

Now known as Lord Bannside, Dr Paisley (85) was rushed to hospital on Sunday, some 10 days after preaching his final sermon as a minister.

He is a former moderator and the founder of the Free Presbyterian Church and was MP for North Antrim for almost 40 years.

Mrs Paisley's short note, issued through the South Eastern Health Trust rather than the DUP, went on: "No further statement or information will be issued at this time."

At their regular weekly meeting yesterday, former DUP colleagues in the Assembly were told Dr Paisley had been taken into hospital. They were briefed in a meeting at Stormont and prayers were said.

There had been concerns several years ago about Mr Paisley's health when he lost weight and looked gaunt.

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