Ian Paisley to quit as Northern Ireland First Minister

March 5th, 2008 - 4:39 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
London, March 5 (Xinhua) Northern Ireland’s First Minister Ian Paisley has announced in Belfast that he would stand down from the post in May. He said Tuesday that he would also resign as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which he has led for almost 40 years.

“I came to this decision a few weeks ago when I was thinking about the forthcoming investment conference and what was going to come after the conference,” he said.

“Unionists are no longer protesting against a London-Dublin deal with which we have no truck,” Paisley said. “We are inside the building administering British rule over Northern Ireland.”

Paisley, who turns 82 in April, became the Northern Ireland’s First Minister in May 2007 in a power-sharing government with Sinn Fein, following the suspension of direct rule after a period of five years.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Paisley has made a huge contribution to political life in Northern Ireland and Britain.

“Progress on bringing a lasting peace to Northern Ireland would not have been possible without his immense courage and leadership,” he said. “The whole country values and admires the manner in which he has led as First Minister.”

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said he did not believe Paisley’s decision would affect the future of the power-sharing government.

“I honestly believe that (devolution) will last because I believe there are very pragmatic people in all of the parties,” he said.

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