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Northern Ireland leader Ian Paisley returns home after illness

Ian Paisley, the former Northern Ireland first minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader, has returned home from hospital after two weeks in intensive care and treatment for a serious heart condition.

Ian paisley 2012 02 06Enlarge
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 returned home from hospital after treatment for a serious heart condition, his wife revealed on Tuesday.

Paisley was admitted to the Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of east Belfast earlier this month, and spent almost two weeks in intensive care.

At one point the 85-year-old former MP for Antrim was critically ill and put on a ventilator at the hospital, according to RTÉ News.

He was later moved to the coronary care unit, signalling a downgrade in the severity of his illness, Ulster TV reported.

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His wife, Baroness Paisley, said today that her husband had returned home and was doing well. In a statement she thanked the hospital staff who took care of Paisley:

“My family and I are delighted that my husband has been able to return home,” she said, according to the BBC.

“It is not possible to put into words the depth of our gratitude to those responsible who cared for him these past three weeks, nor can we express sufficiently our thanks to all those who have sent their good wishes and prayers.”

The baroness also requested that the media continue to give her husband “time and space to fully recuperate.”

A polarizing figure, Paisley led the DUP for almost 40 years, rising to prominence in the 1970s through his fiery rhetoric and opposition to compromise with Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Last month he stepped down from his ministry in the Free Presbyterian denomination that he founded six decades ago to work on his memoirs.

On Saturday a 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of taking a photograph of Paisley while he was in his hospital bed. The man was released on bail pending further enquiries, according to The Irish Times

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120228/northern-ireland-leader-ian-paisley-returns-home