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Ian Paisley: Over working and not enough sleep led me to getting pneumonia

Former DUP leader Ian Paisley has no memory of the eight days when he lay critically ill in hospital, he has revealed.

Dr Paisley, the former MP for North Antrim and Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church and who now has a seat in the Lords said: "I think I was possibly working too hard and not getting proper sleep and I was pushing things. When you're 86 you're not 16."

He also believes abstinence from alcohol helped as well.

He said: "When you're not a drunkard and you're not doing things with your body you shouldn't be doing, you've a far better chance because you've a strong body with more resistance to it."

His family kept a bedside vigil at the Ulster Hospital near Belfast last February amid increasing fears that he might not recover from pneumonia.

But staff managed to nurse him back to health and he was eventually allowed to return home.

Dr Paisley, 86, told Sam McBride, political correspondent of the Belfast-based Ulster Newsletter: "The doctors took me down after I got better and showed me where I lay, but I have no recollection of it. It's eight days out of my life."

Once he was released from hospital Dr Paisley said he recovered quickly.

He said: "I wasn't really too bad. I made a really quick recovery when I got back and was going round on my own home and sleeping in my own bed, eating well and getting out in the garden.

"I want to say that people left us alone. I wasn't queued up with people. We said to people: 'We know how you feel, but please leave us alone because he needs a rest' And we got that."