The Rev Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland’s most famous Protestant figure, has returned to work after a serious illness and resumed his newspaper column on his 86th birthday.
Dr Paisley, who won praise for leading Protestants into power-sharing with Catholics after decades of opposing compromise, was hospitalised in February with unspecified heart problems and spent three weeks in intensive care.
Yesterday’s column in the Belfast News Letter represented his first public words since his recovery.
Dr Paisley has thanked the Northern Ireland public for praying for him, and called on families to come together tomorrow for prayer on Easter Sunday.
He writes that hearing his children and grandchildren saying the Lord’s Prayer together “is sweeter than any chocolate Easter egg”.
Dr Paisley was taken to hospital ten days after preaching his final sermon as a minister. He is a former moderator and founding member of the Free Presbyterian Church, and was MP for North Antrim for almost 40 years.
He was elected Northern Ireland’s first minister in 2007, with Martin McGuinness, a former IRA leader, as his deputy.