Published Monday, 24 September 2012
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Paisley back to health
The Covenant Trail
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Sunday will mark 100 years since the Covenant was signed by around half a million men and women in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill.
Sir Edward Carson was the first signatory in September 1912 - and on 19 September 2012 Mr Paisley, who took on the mantle of Carson, stood at the very spot where the wording of the Covenant had been read to the assembled press almost a century earlier.
He reflected: "In the event of such a parliament being forced upon us we further solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves to refuse to recognise its authority ...
"We are sitting in a hall that reminds us of great men of the past but challenges us to be great for ourselves in the future in regard to our loyalties and the defence of the part of Ireland that still has the union flag flying over it."
Dr Paisley was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald in February, after suffering from heart problems.
The 85-year-old received treatment for just over two weeks before being discharged.
"The eight days that I was out for the count I have no memory of it at all - it's a part that I am glad I have left behind me," said the former First Minister.
"It was a country that I had forgotten - so there is still a kick in the old fella yet!"
While he may have no recollection of those missing days, Dr Paisley said he has been reading the many messages he has received.
"There was a time when I suppose the name of Paisley was a name that stirred up a lot of enmity," he continued.
"But I was amazed myself at the letters I received the messages I received from people that years ago would have thought should have been shipped out of the country."
Dr Paisley stepped down from political life in 2010. Last December, he preached his final sermon after standing down as moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church.
Now that his bout of illness is behind him, he has once again become a familiar sight at the gates of Belfast City Hall, where he has resumed his open air preaching.
He continued: "I'm feeling very well, if I am not called out by the UTV people to come early - I'd rather lie in bed a little longer!
"I am feeling very well."