Paisley family keeps vigil at bedside

Paisley in full political battle mode.

The family of the former First Minister of Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley, are keeping a vigil at his bedside after he was admitted to hospital on Sunday.

Mr. Paisley, who is 85, is being treated in the intensive care unit at the Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of East Belfast for a heart condition.

His wife, Eileen, released a statement on Monday confirming that her husband is being treated in the Ulster Hospital and requested that the family's privacy is respected at a difficult time.

This is not the first time that the former Democratic Unionist Party leader has experienced problems with his heart. He was fitted with a pacemaker last year after taking ill at Westminster in London.

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On Monday evening, Paisley's family spent the night with him at his hospital bed.

DUP MLA Jonathan Craig said he was praying for the Paisley family.

"As a party leader and a friend he has touched not only myself, but four generations of my family have sat under his ministry," Craig said.

"We are deeply worried and concerned and our thoughts and prayers are with the Paisley family at this time."

In addition to co-founding the DUP and leading it from 1971 to 2008, Mr. Paisley also founded the Free Presbyterian Church, and was both staunchly anti-Catholic and anti-nationalist in his pronouncements.

He famously protested against the power-sharing Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

In 2005, his political party became the largest party in Northern Ireland, and in 2008 he confounded his critics when he announced that he would form a cross-community government at Stormont with his avowed enemies, Sinn Féin.

In 2010, Paisley was succeeded as First Minister of Northern Ireland by Peter Robinson. Two weeks ago, more than 3,000 people gathered to hear Paisley preach his farewell service at Martyrs' Memorial Church in Belfast.

The service marked the official end of his six decades of full-time ministry.