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Northern Ireland protestant leader Ian Paisley hospitalized

The former Northern Ireland first minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader has been admitted to a Belfast hospital after being taken ill yesterday.

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A polarizing figure, Paisley came to prominence in the 1970s preaching fiery Protestant opposition to compromise with Catholics in Northern Ireland. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Ian Paisley, the former Northern Ireland first minister and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader, has been admitted to hospital after being taken ill yesterday.

There were unconfirmed reports that the 85-year-old former MP for north Antrim had suffered a heart attack, according to the Irish Times. He had had a pacemaker fitted a year ago after falling ill in the House of Lords in London.

His wife, Baroness Paisley, released a statement confirming that he is being treated in the Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of east Belfast. Ulster TV reported that his treatment was being administered in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Paisley, a minister in the Free Presbyterian denomination that he founded 60 years ago, led the DUP for almost 40 years. He preached his final sermon at the end of January, standing down from his ministry to work on his memoirs.

A polarizing figure, Paisley came to prominence in the 1970s preaching fiery Protestant opposition to compromise with Catholics in Northern Ireland, and tried to block a key peace accord in 1998, the Associated Press reported.

He stepped down as leader of Northern Ireland’s regional government and from his leadership position within the DUP in 2008, and did not seek re-election in 2010 to the House of Lords.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120206/northern-ireland-protestant-leader-ian-paisley