There has been an answer to our prayers - Paisley Junior

THE “steady progress” made by former First Minister Ian Paisley is “an answer to prayer”, according to his son.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jnr said that his father “is making a good recovery”.

Last week, Mr Paisley was moved out of intensive care at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald where he is being treated for heart problems.

“He is making a good recovery,” said Mr Paisley Jnr.

“We are very pleased with the progress that he has made.

“He is a very hearty and strong man and we are very thankful to the hundreds of people who have contacted us sending their best wishes from all around Northern Ireland.

“We have received messages from right across the community expressing their love and thoughts and prayers for dad.

“We are incredibly grateful to the many hundreds of people who have contacted us and indicated that they are praying for us and praying for my father.

“We appreciate that and it is very encouraging. There has been an answer to prayer.”

The North Antrim MP added that while his father “has made a good recovery, he has some way to go”.

“But we are very very hopeful that he has turned the corner,” he said.

“We think there has been a great response to prayer.

“He still has some way to go but we are very, very hopeful and thankful to all the staff of the Ulster Hospital for their care.

“He is still in hospital and will be there for a few more weeks.

“I am glad that he is making progress, we continue to need distance and space.”

At the time of his admission to hospital First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called on the community to give “prayerful support” to Ian Paisley and his family.

The former DUP leader was rushed to the Ulster Hospital at Dundonald on February 5 suffering from apparent heart failure.

A statement was released from his family requesting privacy during what they described as a “difficult time”.

Lord Bannside, who is 85, stood down as First Minister in 2008 and ended 60 years of full-time ministry in January.

He was made a peer in 2010.

Mr Paisley fell ill just 10 days after preaching his final sermon as a church minister.

He is a former moderator and founding member of the Free Presbyterian Church and was MP for North Antrim for almost 40 years.

There had been concerns several years ago about his health, when he lost weight and looked gaunt.

But at his farewell sermon at the Martyrs Memorial Church in Belfast on January 27 church-goers remarked on how well he appeared for his age. After withdrawing from church and public life he was planning to write his autobiography.

Mr Paisley, once a fierce opponent of sharing government powers with nationalists and republicans in Northern Ireland, was elected First Minister in May 2007 with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, a former IRA leader in Londonderry, as Deputy First Minister.

It was a remarkable partnership, the two men becoming firm professional and personal friends,