“Whoever, one day, should succeed him, they are bound to continue that work too”

With the apparent growing acceptance, despite Mrs Paisley’s wishes, that Ian Paisley Snr’s leadership of the DUP “is coming to the latter stages” what happens next is now a valid topic for questions to the Republic of Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, and for Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, who held a bilateral meeting in Dublin today.

Mr Ahern said he would like to see Mr Paisley continue in his position for the short-term as he has been very influential in achieving power sharing in Northern Ireland.

He was speaking in Dublin after a bilateral meeting with Secretary of State Shaun Woodward.

He agreed that the Taoiseach and Government had enjoyed a good relationship with Dr Paisley which had been significant in making political progress.

“The DUP, like any other political party has its own internal machinations. It is a robust party and will make its own decisions in due course,” Mr Ahern said.

He said there many people in the DUP “well able” to lead the party and did not know if a change of leader would affect the stability of the Assembly.

Questioned by reporters on the same issue, Mr Woodward said the personal legacy of Dr Paisley would be enormous.

“He has led his party into a government, into a shared future that few could have imagined possible just a few years.

“Whoever, one day, should succeed him, they are bound to continue that work too,” Mr Woodward said.