Ian Paisley’s revival after serious illness

Ian Paisley said he intended to live a little longer “to the torment of his enemies and to the joy of his friends”

The former Stormont First Minister, Ian Paisley, has returned to public life after a life-threatening illness.

The 86-year-old spent a week on a life-support machine earlier this year, but has now started carrying out public engagements again.

Last week he led a service outside his church in east Belfast, Martyrs’ Memorial, in memory of the unionist leader Lord Edward Carson.

In February, he spent a week on a life support machine suffering from heart failure. His family feared that he would not recover.

Today, while his voice may have lost a bit of its boom, and he is now closer to 90 than to 80, he says that he is fighting fit.

“I’m keeping very, very, well. Very well indeed and for an old boy of 86 I think I’m making it very well,” he said.

“God has been very good to me, and I intend to live a while longer – to the torment of my enemies and the joy of my friends.”

He is watching events in Scotland with interest, ahead of the forthcoming vote on independence.

However, he believes the Scots will vote ‘no’. And he also reckons Northern Ireland’s place within the UK is safe, in spite of Sinn Fein demands for a border-poll in Ireland, north and south.

He said: “We are getting now many Roman Catholics who are unionists – quite amazing – and who go out and vote unionist.”

He is hoping to return soon to the House of Lords, where he sits as Lord Bannside. He is still a prolific writer and he recently resumed some preaching duties.

But what about retirement?

The answer seems to be never, never, never.

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