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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - North West London, £35-40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant (ACCA / CIMA, ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Team

£11 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A 10 year old girl who has profound an...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Manager ...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore