The Rev Ian Paisley said yesterday that he would not stand again for the European Parliament.
Mr Paisley, 77, presented his European retirement as leaving him free to concentrate on the review of the Good Friday Agreement which, it was announced yesterday, will begin on 3 February. Mr Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will not talk to Sinn Fein during the review but it will meet Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach.
Mr Paisley said: "We are serious about these talks. Because of this I am not running away from Europe. I'm going to finish my course there but I am not going back to Europe. I am going to be here. I am going to be in every one of these talks. Bertie Ahern will get away with nothing."
Mr Paisley remains DUP leader, a Westminster MP and a member of the suspended Assembly, as well as heading his Free Presbyterian Church. He has said he is not suffering from ill health.