Irish Protestant Leader Ian Paisley Hospitalized

Published February 6, 2012 4:27PM (EST)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — The fiery Northern Ireland Protestant leader the Rev. Ian Paisley has been taken to a hospital, his wife said Monday.

The Press Association news agency said Eileen Paisley confirmed that her 85-year-old husband had been taken to the Ulster Hospital near Belfast. Ulster Television reported that he was being treated in the intensive care unit, but it was not immediately certain what he was being treated for.

Paisley, a minister in the Free Presbyterian denomination he founded, was a prominent figure in Northern Ireland's violent struggles since 1970 when the Irish Republican Army launched a campaign of violence.

Paisley came to prominence preaching a "no surrender" brand of politics, failed to block the 1998 peace accord and later led his Democratic Unionist Party to head a regional government in partnership with Sinn Fein, the party of IRA supporters.

Paisley got along so well with his deputy, former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, that the pair were nicknamed "the chuckle brothers."

Paisley had recently cut back on his activities, retiring from politics and the pulpit. Friends and foes have called him "the big man" in tribute to his bulky 6-foot-3 (190cms), his large-featured faced and his bellowing voice.

By Salon Staff

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