“They have to say that to try to keep their followers happy.”

There’s been an absence of searching interviews of the leaders of both of the larger parties since March 26th, what with well-behaved witnesses and the chastising of interviewers asking ‘stupid’ questions, just the odd vaudevillian routine. So we’ll have to make do, for now, with what we have. And what we have is a interview with Ian Paisley in the Washington Times, as spotted by Newshound.Two points strike me from the interview.

The first is the repetition of the line about what that, still lacking in detail, threatened Plan B was. According to Ian Paisley, his decision was based on the balance of two issues

Q: In America, we have a phrase “tipping point.” It means you’ve gone beyond the point of no return and can’t go back. Was there a tipping point in your negotiations with Sinn Fein when you realized that a deal was going to be done?

A: “Yes. But, unfortunately, this became a time factor with the British government and they made another fool of themselves by doing that. If we had more time, I think, we could have gotten an even better deal than we got. But we have got a fairly good deal altogether, considering the great changes that they made to the agreement and considering that no member of the executive, no matter from what side they come, can do anything on his own.

And for the first time, the IRA had to swear allegiance to the police. The old-time Republican terrorists had said they would never give allegiance to the police of the United Kingdom. If we had gone back on this and not done the deal, we would have been ruled jointly by the United Kingdom and Dublin. No elected representative from Northern Ireland would have had any say in anything that was being done.

What’s interesting about this line is that, if true, it suggests that the Secretary of State for Wales, etc, was being economical with the actualité in his evidence to the NI Affairs Committee in Parliament, on May 10 last year, when he stated the Plan B was, and would remain, something entirely different. – as noted in comment 4 at this previous post

Q23 Lady Hermon: Secretary of State, may I pursue that a little bit, picking up on some of the points you have raised. You will know how angry the UVF were with the joint statement that was issued by the Prime Minister and Taoiseach on 6 April 2006 in Armagh. They particularly took exception to, and I am not a spokesman for the organisation but it is in the public domain, and disliked the term “the joint stewardship of the process”. Do you regret, and is there any regret in Downing Street, that that phrase “the joint stewardship of the process”, was actually used, pushing back and delaying the possibility of loyalist paramilitaries, particularly the UVF, coming in from the cold and beginning the process that they should have done a long time since?

Mr Hain: I hope my friends and colleagues on the other side of the border will not take offence at this, “but I think there was some unhelpful spin from some elements in Dublin which hyped up the interpretation of “joint stewardship. Joint stewardship of the process” was a very carefully chosen phrase. It did not imply joint authority, as I said earlier, joint governance: it implied joint stewardship of the process of bringing peace, of putting in concrete the peace and seeking restoration of the devolved institutions. That is what it meant, and that is what it will mean, that and nothing else. I do agree that interpretation seems to have been the reason that, in the case of the UVF at least, they would not do anything until after 24 November. I think that is an excuse, frankly, and now that they know that that has been clarified by myself in particular, there is no reason for them to delay at all.

The second point is Ian Paisley’s dismissal of the prospects for a united Ireland.. He clearly doesn’t think much of the predictive powers of the Star Trek writers..

Q: Sinn Fein says its objective remains a united Ireland. Do you think Ireland ultimately will be united?

A: No, I don’t. I think that’s wishful thinking on their part. They have to say that to try to keep their followers happy. Everybody knows the very heart of the united Ireland policy was never to give any credence to British rule, and especially Republicans always saw the police as representatives of a foreign power that was keeping them in subjection and out of union. Now that they are prepared to take office in a government that is part and parcel of the United Kingdom and also to take the oath of allegiance to the police, I think they have forsworn general Republican thinking.

A point Ian Paisley returns to when asked a potentially ‘stupid’ question at the end

Q: Looking back over the last 30 years and the more than 3,500 people who have been killed in “The Troubles,” do you have any regrets about anything you have said or done?

A: I may have said and done things that if I had to say and do them again I might have said and done them differently. But I have no real regrets that the line I took was the right line. I think that has now been vindicated by what has happened. We have got a deal we were told we couldn’t get. It is quite clear to everybody there is going to be no united Ireland for 100 years, at least.

I suspect there’s a lot of wishful thinking, and a lot of trying to keep followers happy, going on in a lot of areas at this particular point in time..

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  • Sean

    Total Paisley Bollocks but I see the interviewer gave Paisley the soft pass on his own connections to terrorism never mind the Loyalist terrorists

  • slug

    I think that answer to the question Paisley is posed is a good answer, but its an answer he up to now didn’t use to reassure people at home. The fact that he is using that argument now is perhaps a good sign in that it means that the atmosphere will be more stable and relaxed.

  • Alex S

    Paisley may have no regrets, I suspect the 3500 dead might take a more critical view?

  • The Third Policeman

    “If we had more time, I think, we could have gotten an even better deal than we got.”

    Well that just about kills the notion they were ‘condition led, not calander led’ doesn’t it?

  • Cato

    I’d like to know exactly how this interview was conducted. Was it a face-to-face interview or was it written answers to written questions? The answers look to me like they have come from the pen of Timothy Johnstone, particularly the part about the Irish question not being a religious issue. Ian Paisley has built his whole career on his insistence that it was a religious issue!

  • hotdogx

    Paisley says UI in 100 years or so, even he admits the possibility of a UI. so much for never never never!

  • New Yorker

    The most striking things to me are his statements about the “shame” of the British and “betrayal” by the British. It comes across to me as a deep-seated and probably long-lasting conviction.

    It also sounds like he advocates developing an “independent” unionist identity – one not totally relying on London and acknowledging good neighbors south of the border.

  • Kevin

    The Washington Times is owned by the Unification Church (the “Moonies”), and is well-known as a right-wing ragsheet in the US.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    I think Hotdogz put his finger on it. In one sentence, Paisley is saying:
    Q: Sinn Fein says its objective remains a united Ireland. Do you think Ireland ultimately will be united?

    A: No, I don’t. I think that’s wishful thinking on their part. They have to say that to try to keep their followers happy. Everybody knows the very heart of the united Ireland policy was never to give any credence to British rule, and especially Republicans always saw the police as representatives of a foreign power that was keeping them in subjection and out of union. Now that they are prepared to take office in a government that is part and parcel of the United Kingdom and also to take the oath of allegiance to the police, I think they have forsworn general Republican thinking.

    And within a few breaths, he’s back saying United Ireland won’t happen It is quite clear to everybody there is going to be no united Ireland for 100 years, at least.,

    Given that he’s the man who said he would never, never, never share power with Sinn Féin ( and before them any nationalist of any hue), and now he is, that’s as good as saying that we’re going to have a United Ireland in a matter of weeks.

    Given it’s only a question of time, as Paisley says, why do we have to wait?

  • Reader

    OC : Given it’s only a question of time, as Paisley says, why do we have to wait?
    He didn’t say it was only a matter of time, he said it wouldn’t happen for at least another 100 years. He didn’t saw it would happen then. Personally, I wouldn’t make any predictions out past 50 years – who knows what the world will be like then? And Paisley may be expecting the Rapture before then…
    So, now that you don’t have the authority of Paisley to back up the question, here are a couple of answers:
    1) I am likely to die in the next 100 years. But I’m still not going to cut my throat right now.
    2) You have to wait because too many people agreed to the Principle of Consent. Including too many of the people who want what you want. Unfortunately (from your point of view) they forgot to work out how to get the votes for a United Ireland

  • barcas

    Maybe I am misunderstanding something somewhere, but Paisley states in his comments above that both the IRA and Sinn Fein have sworn alliegence to the police in NI.

    Sinn Fein might be willing to swear alliegence to the the newly forming State but as the IRA is not part of the proposed Government, I have to call Paisley’s comment into question. Indeed, I was not aware that the IRA took part in any elections.

    To continue my pedantry. If anyone is swearing alliegence to any authoritarian body in NI, it must be to the newly constituted State. I assume that the the PSNI will similarly swear alliegence – eventually – to that same body. I doubt that the State will be required to take a similar oath of alliegence to the PSNI.

    Maybe it is a Freudian slip on Paisley’s part, revealing his vision of the police force to be one and the same body as the State.

    Wishful thinking, maybe, but clearly he would love to turn the clock back to the days when the RUC was almost what Paisley evidently imagines it to have been.