Top N. Ireland Minister Will Step Down

Paisley played key role in power-sharing, peace agreements
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 4, 2008 5:00 PM CST
First Minister for Northern Ireland and DUP Leader Ian Paisley announcing during a TV interview in Stormont Castle, Belfast, Northern Ireland,that he will be standing down as First Minister. An era in...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Northern Ireland’s influential first minister, Ian Paisley, will step down in May, Reuters reports. The Protestant evangelist, 81, helped soothe religious strife in the province when he agreed to share power with Catholics last year after decades of fueling the conflict, the AP reports. "I've achieved my aims," Paisley said today. "Now it's time to hand over to others."

Paisley was “a giant figure in the history of these islands,” said Irish PM Bertie Ahern. But opposition to the power-sharing agreement has been growing within the Democratic Unionist Party, which he founded and led for nearly 40 years. His son has been entangled in a scandal involving ties to a real estate developer, but the senior Paisley denied that had anything to do with his decision.