Ian Paisley to step down
Former Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley will not seek re-election in the forthcoming general election, it was revealed today.
The 83-year-old founder and ex-leader of the Democratic Unionist Party is to relinquish the North Antrim seat he first won in 1970.
His decision could open the way for his son, Ian Paisley Jnr, to stand as the DUP's candidate in the constituency.
The contest is expected to be a tight one, with the leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice party, Jim Allister, having already announced his intention to run in North Antrim.
Mr Paisley announced his decision to stand down in his local constituency paper, the Ballymena Guardian.
The DUP will officially select its Westminster candidate for the North Antrim seat next week.
Ian Paisley Jnr confirmed his father would be standing down.
"I would want to pay tribute to the fantastic role my father has played as a Member of Parliament for the last 40 years," he said.
Famed for his firebrand oratory, Mr Paisley was a founding member of the Free Presbyterian Church in Ireland in 1951. His evangelical theology heavily influenced his political views and throughout the Troubles he forthrightly denounced Catholicism and the papacy.
During the conflict he was a fierce critic of power-sharing with nationalists and of the Republic of Ireland having a say in Northern Ireland's affairs.
But in his later political life, the one-time cheer-leader for hardline unionism underwent somewhat of a political conversion which finally saw him enter office with his long-time enemy, Sinn Fein.
His decision to accept the position of First Minister alongside Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness in 2007 saw him hailed as a peacemaker by moderates but criticised by many former followers who accused him of betraying Ulster.
What proved almost more remarkable was the warmth of the relationship the two erstwhile foes developed during their year in officer together, leading some to dub them the "Chuckle Brothers".
Mr Paisley stood down as First Minister in 2008. He was replaced by his long-time DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson.
Mr Paisley told the Ballymena Guardian it had been a privilege to represent the area but it was time for a new generation of politicians to build on his legacy.
"I have no doubt the people of North Antrim will again support the DUP at the next election," he said.
Reflecting on his political career, he said he had "no regrets" about the landmark decision to go into power with Sinn Fein three years ago.
"After a period of tough negotiations it was my view that, provided our conditions were met, the overwhelming majority of the people of Northern Ireland wanted me to do the deal, it was as simple as that."
Mr Paisley said he was unhappy that some DUP members, including Mr Allister, left the party in the wake of the move, but insisted he had made the right choice.
"I am sad that some people walked away but I believe I showed the leadership required to get the best possible deal in the circumstances," he added.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
Ottawa shooting: Canadian soldier dies after being shot at National War Memorial – with one gunman killed inside parliament
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...
£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...
£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...