The veteran church leader, and firebrand politician Reverend Ian Paisley remains in a ‘very serious’ condition in hospital, after having suffered what is thought to have been a heart attack.
The 85-year-old was taken ill only hours after preaching at his retirement service at the Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian Church in east Belfast, two weeks ago.
And this weekend congregants stayed on after church to pray for their beloved founder, after having been told that his condition remains “very serious”.
The former Unionist politician is believed to be suffering with a serious heart condition, although at the request of the Paisley family the Ulster Hospital has given no official updates on his condition.
But worshippers at the many churches which are part of the denomination that Dr Paisley founded have been urged to pray him. Rev Alan Smylie who spoke at Martyr’s Memorial church on Sunday told the congregation:
“His condition is still very serious in the hospital but we trust that you will continue to pray for him that the Lord’s hand will be upon him. He is the great physician, the one who can touch and heal and restore.”
Rev Paisley, who was given the title Lord Bannside in 2010, has been a key part of Northern Irish politics for decades.
His strong anti-republican views gained him many friends and enemies in a polarised community, but when he became First Minister of the Northern Irish Assembly he formed an unlikely friendship with former IRA man Martin McGuiness, who was his deputy.
The two became such firm friends that they were nicknamed ‘The Chuckle Brothers’ by other politicians and journalists, who often saw them sharing a joke at the Stormont assembly building.
Dr Paisley stepped down from the job in 2008, he was replaced by Peter Robinson, who also replaced him leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, which Dr Paisley co-founded in 1971.
February 14th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross