Northern Irish firebrand Ian Paisley leaves intensive care

BELFAST Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:38pm GMT

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Dr Ian Paisley arrives at his constituency offices in Ballymena where he announced his retirement as MP for north Antrim, Belfast March 8, 2010. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Dr Ian Paisley arrives at his constituency offices in Ballymena where he announced his retirement as MP for north Antrim, Belfast March 8, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton

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BELFAST (Reuters) - Ian Paisley, one of Northern Ireland's most prominent political figures, has been released from intensive care but remains in hospital with a heart condition, a source in his party said on Thursday.

The 85-year-old former Northern Ireland First Minister, whose unlikely alliance with his bitter Catholic rivals helped belatedly to cement Northern Ireland's peace process, was admitted to intensive care on February 5.

The source in the Democratic Unionist Party declined to give any further details of his condition, citing a request by Paisley's family for privacy.

Paisley, once a fierce opponent of any concessions to Northern Ireland's Catholic community, went on to lead the province's power-sharing government in the twilight years of his career.

The preacher-turned-politician has a history of heart trouble and fell ill with heart problems in 2005, writing afterwards that he was "walking in death's shadow."

In February 2011 he had a pacemaker fitted after being taken ill in the House of Lords.

(Reporting by Ian Graham; Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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