Northern Ireland’s First Minister Ian Paisley is to step down as leader of the Free Presbyterian Church next year.

The decision was announced following a meeting of 200 members of the church presbytery last night.

Mr Paisley has been the leader of the Free Presbyterian Church since he founded it 50 years ago.

Before the meeting started, a small number of protesters picketed the event, complaining about Mr Paisley's dual role as the North's First Minister and the head of the church.