After a career spanning five decades, Ian Paisley announces that he is to step down as First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the DUP.

Ian Paisley made his name as a hard line unionist and was a harsh critic of Irish republicanism galvanising support against the Anglo-Irish Agreement. He was also a preacher who opposed to the influence of Rome and heckled Pope John Paul II in the European Parliament. As the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), he grew the party to become the dominant voice of unionism.

Ian Paisley was one of the most significant politicians in the history of Northern Ireland.

After a life-threatening illness, his perspective changed and resolved to change from outsider to the centre of political power. He set out strict terms for entering government alongside Sinn Féin in a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. This milestone in the history of Northern Ireland was for Paisley his most important achievement.

I believe that all my background prepared me for that day. I don't think anybody else could have come out of the blue and done it. You would have to have the sort of life I have had. You had to have all the battle and all the war, all the smoke and all the fire.

Now Reverend Ian Paisley has decided to step down, what will the future hold for power-sharing?

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 4 March 2008. The reporter is Eimear Lowe.