Paisley announces plans to step down as first minister

Northern Ireland first minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Ian Paisley has announced he is to step down in May.

Mr Paisley, 81, said today that his last act as first minister would be an investment conference in Belfast in two months time.

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

“I thought it is a marker, a very big marker and it would be appropriate time for me to bow out.”

He confirmed he would continue as an MP and Assembly member after he stepped down.

Mr Paisley has been leader of the Democratic Unionist Party for almost 40 years and took the post of first minister in May 2007, following a historic power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland.