“I am also proud of my Irish roots”

As noted earlier, the DUP leader Ian Paisley went to Dublin today, Farmleigh to be exact where he was met by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern – the RTÉ video report of the resultant handshake is here and the BBC report is here [realplayer file]. The quote in the title is from Ian Paisley’s speech, in which he said, “I am proud to be an Ulsterman, but I am also proud of my Irish roots… although I would put the Ulsterman before the Irishman in my Constitution.” Ian Paisley has also been interviewed by Stephen Nolan [??? – Ed] partial transcript here From the BBC report on tonight’s interview, to be broadcast at 10.40pm BBC1

But when it came to the crunch, he said he was prepared to “step out of the class of the coward into the class of the man who is prepared to sell himself and his reputation for the sake of this country”.

“We were told if we didn’t do this then it was going to be curtains for our country,” he says.

“How would I have faced my people if I had allowed this country to have the union destroyed and the setting up of a joint government by the south of Ireland?”

There’s another interesting exchange..

Does Mr Paisley still hate “Sinn Fein/IRA”?

“I hate the principles of the IRA and I hate the murders that they carried out, and I hate what they did to innocent people,” says Mr Paisley.

What about Gerry Adams, who sat beside Mr Paisley in that already iconic photograph at Stormont – is he still to be considered “an enemy of the Protestant people”?

“I am not in a position to say what his present feeling is at this moment, but we know his policies, and know what they are.

“Now, having said that, there has been a change and in a few days’ time the same Mr Adams will stand beside me and he will take an oath that he is going to accept the police force of Northern Ireland.”

One other point to note is that Farmleigh has previously been used to host visits from “the Chinese Premier, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the King and Queen of Malaysia and of course on the Day of Welcomes on 1st May 2004, Farmleigh played host to the 25 Heads of State from Europe.”