Junior still on the ropes, Senior to step down as MP…

There is clearly considerable unease within the DUP at the private lobbying conducted by Ian Paisley Junior on behalf of his own constituency business at a crucial stage of the St Andrews Talks. The Irish Times tonight quotes a source saying:

“It is fair to say some members, including people in senior positions, are unhappy that stories about Ian’s lobbying activities are continuing to haunt him and the party. Party officers have been keen to distance the party from these stories. They want it to be clear they did not know what Ian was lobbying for.”

And in tomorrow’s Irish Times, comes the news that Ian Senior is to step down as MP for North Antrim. The timing could not be worse for a son who might have hoped to take the father’s seat and perhaps ensure himself some political longevity. As it is, Mr Paisley Junior apparently solo game leaves him particularly vulnerable inside the party.

Frank Millar writes:

A majority of the DUP’s MPs are now privately indicating their belief that this should be sooner rather than later, with some advocating a handover as early as this summer in order to allow a new leader to establish himself ahead of the general election in which the party hopes to increase further its Westminster representation.

However, these calculations cut across Dr Paisley’s declared intention to serve his full four-year term as First Minister in Northern Ireland’s powersharing Executive. Dr Paisley, who will be 82 in April, repeated that commitment during an appearance at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth last September in direct response to media inquiries prompted by the last burst of internal DUP speculation about his position.

He concludes:

Even among those most impatient now for a change of leader, there is also acknowledgement of some risk that Dr Paisley’s early departure could see the DUP adopt a more confrontational attitude to its Sinn Féin partners in government. Against that, MPs in particular make no secret of the fact that the desire for change has been fed by the “Chuckle Brothers” image that has come to characterise Dr Paisley’s surprisingly warm personal relationship with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

And with the march of time, as one MP put it last night, “there simply has to be a question about his capacity to continue doing the job”. The MP confirmed there was “no plot” to force the pace on the leadership issue, insisting “that isn’t the nature” of the now widespread discussion about the timing of the succession.

Yet, as Jim Allister has noted in a press release last evening, the fact that father and son worked so closely together may mean that Ian Paisley Senior end ups having questions to answer as well. The question of a succession may not go away quite so quickly or as easily as Team Paisley might wish. The press release is worth quoting in full:

“The claim by Ian Paisley Junior that he raised his projects only on the margins of St Andrews and DUP indications that Junior was on a “solo run”, raise the intriguing question of why, if this is so, a Prime Minister, consumed with more pressing matters, would so expeditiously respond “positively”, on the very day the St Andrews Conference climaxed, to matters in respect of which the decision properly lay with local departments? It surely stretches credulity to dismiss a nexus between Junior’s requests and what was going on at that time at St Andrews?

The urgency and positive nature of the PM’s response suggests it was in his interests to respond as he did, as if such a response was conditional on, or in expectation of, obtaining reciprocal positivity from those he was negotiating with. In short, what did Ian Junior promise and deliver him in return, and on whose behalf?

A second major outstanding question is whether he was doing all this behind his father’s back. Is that what we are expected to believe, particularly since one of the undertakings sought from the PM was for government to engage with his father on the future of St Patrick’s Barracks? It seems to me, therefore, that we need much more clarity from both Ian Junior and his father.”

Mr Allister has a formidable reputation both as an tenacious barrister and an thorough-going MEP. And one with the capacity, as one commentator suggested to Slugger yesterday, of striking fear into the hearts of many bureaucrats. And now, perhaps, some of his former party colleagues.

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  • USA

    Well it’s no secret that I think junior is a disgrace. A bare faced liar, full of arrogance with no shame. First denies knowing Seymour Sweeney, then admits to fishing excursions, luncheons etc.
    Add in several very dodgy real estate deals, one of which I think was for his private residence, mix in even more questionalbe behaviour over the North’s one natural treasure, the Giants Causeway – and top it all off with his homophobia and Orange Order membership and we get a measure of the character of the man. Unsavory to say the least.
    On a previous thread DC wrote about “junior’s’ negotiating antics at St Andrews thus: “must lead us to conclude that this really was a top down process with much of the course already plotted a long time ago”.
    I totally agree, St Andrews was a complete puppet show – Blair and Ahern must have been embarrased for “junior” when he presented his wee shopping list. There is no doubt the agenda was set long ago, Blair and Ahern made it clear for years that it was the only game in town. The British govt, Irish govt, the US govt (Senator Mitchell), SF and others had been working on this deal for years. Do you really think they were going to renegotiate because old Pailsly finally wanted a seat at the table. Easy to see where “junior” gets his arrogant stupidity from.
    Only months previously Paisley had demanded sack cloth and ashes along with photos of decommissioning. It was no coincidence that it was Adams who got his photo – just to show who was driving the agenda. Combine all that with a complete 180 degree turn by “old man Paisley” and you get the chuckle brothers. The Paisleys are an embarrasment and Unionists are foolish for following them.

  • USA, did you really have to ‘sex up’ your dodgy dossier? 😉

    AFAIK IPjr never denied knowing SS, he said, “I know of him. Yes”.

    There may be other ‘dodgy real estate deals’ but AFAIK we’ve only been told about one, the ‘farm cottage’ at Ballyallaght.

    I don’t recall seeing IPjr in OO regalia. Perhaps someone can link to an image.

    Is puppet the appropriate metaphor? Perhaps Paisley and Adams have been useful tools/fools in the grand scheme of things but the electorate must shoulder some responsibility for electing them to public office. As for Blair and Ahern …

  • willowfield

    If Paisley retires at the end of this Parliament it means he’ll never become Father of the House.

    Some time last year, though, Paisley became the longest-ever-serving Northern Ireland MP. He is now approaching 38 years’ service: the previous longest was Sir Hugh O’Neill, who was an MP for 37 years from 1915-1952 (Mid-Antrim 1915-22, Antrim 1922-50 and North Antrim 1950-52). (Of course, this includes 6 years as an MP before NI was created.)

    Who is the longest-ever-serving Irish MP? I can only find this – http://www.election.demon.co.uk/longserv.html – which lists those 20th century MPs from all parts of the Kingdom with 40 or more years’ service. T. P. O’Connor is on it with nearly 50 years, but 44 of those, of course, were as MP for Liverpool, Scotland.

    This makes Paisley the longest-serving Irish MP of the last 108 years at least.

  • Mick Fealty

    That would consist of Scotland Road, home to Paddy’s Market. And s sinecure for any Irish politician during the period of O’Connor’s career.

  • pith

    Willowfield, He is certainly the longest self-serving MP.

  • From one DUPing MP about his/her Chuckle Brother:

    “there simply has to be a question about his capacity to continue doing the job”.

    Euphemism of 2008 and it’s still only January.

    I wonder if the said MP is of the Punt family.

  • pith

    …and anyway he could not be Father of the House as his continuous membership only goes back as far as 1986. I think there are others who were elected after him but have been there continuously since before 1986.

  • willowfield

    Actually, Paisley might not yet be the longest-serving. Sir Hugh O’Neill was first elected in February 1915 and I don’t know in which month of 1952 he retired. He served, therefore, at least 37 years and at most 37 years and 10 months.

    Here’s a list of NI’s top ten longest-serving MPs (counting service before the creation of NI):

    1. Rev. Dr Ian Paisley (North Antrim 1970 to present) 37 years, 7 months

    2. Sir Hugh O’Neill (Mid-Antrim 1915-22, Antrim 1922-50, North Antrim 1950-52) 37 years, ? months

    3. W.E.D. Allen (North Armagh 1917-22, Armagh 1922-47) 30 years, 1 month

    4. Peter Robinson (East Belfast 1979 to present) 28 years, 8 months

    5. William Ross (Londonderry 1974-83, East Londonderry 1983-2001) 27 years, 4 months

    6. Sir James Molyneaux (South Antrim 1970-83, Lagan Valley 1983-97) 26 years, 11 months

    7. Sir James Kilfedder (West Belfast 1964-66, North Down 1970-95) 26 years, 2 months

    8. Capt. Charles Craig (South Antrim 1903-22, Antrim 1922-29) c. 26 years

    9. Capt. Lawrence Orr (South Down 1950-74) 24 years, 8 months

    10. Rev. Martin Smyth (South Belfast 1982-2005) 23 years, 2 months

  • willowfield

    The longest-serving nationalist is John Hume, who comes in at joint 12th:

    11. Sir Ronald Ross (Londonderry 1929-51) 22 years 5 months

    =12. Roy Beggs (East Antrim 1983-2005) 21 years 11 months

    =12. John Hume (Foyle 1983-2005) 21 years 11 months

  • An Lochlannach

    Is Jr a shoe-in for the North Antrim Westminster seat when Pappa Doc goes, or are there other contenders?

  • willowfield
  • cut the bull

    I would there are a few senior members of the DUP who would love to give IJP a good shoo-in.

  • cut the bull

    Sorry should have read,

    I would bet there are a few senior members of the DUP who would love to give IJP a good shoo-in.

  • joeCanuck

    Shoe-in = kick up the arse?

  • cut the bull

    Well joe thats what it means in most parts of Belfast

  • An Lochlannach

    Serves me right for resorting to clichés. I’ll ask again – is it likely that Jr will inherit the DUP nomination seat in North Antrim?

  • [aside]Rooker’s List – Northern Ireland to remain a place apart.

  • belfastpete

    North Antrim seat will goto a Shinner

  • An Lochlannach

    “North Antrim seat will go to a Shinner”

    Yeah, and the DUP will win West Belfast.

  • cut the bull

    I think Ian Paisley after a long stint as the MP for North Antrim would probably be looking back and thinking of the continued support he got from strong holds such as Ballymena throughout his political career.

    He would probably become a little bit sentimental thinking about the changing political landscape, particularly the last ten years.

    I think his thoughts may go some thing like this,

    Don’t cry for me Ballymena.
    The truth is I never left you
    All through my wild days,
    My Third Force and Ulster Resistance,
    I kept my promise.
    Don’t keep your distance.

  • Rory

    Willowfield’s list of long serving NI MP’s reminds of of a day during the mid-sixties when, hitching from Belfast, I was given a lift by Capt. Orr. He was quite chatty but seemed keen that I recognise him, that I would know “who he was”. Finally I twigged. “Aren’t you our Member for Parliament, Captain Orr?”. He was delighted and readily admitted it. Towards the end of our journey he asked if I would be voting. I explained that I did not have a vote and that it was most unlikely that he could count on my parents’ votes as we were Catholic.

    “Oh”, he said, “Not at all. Lots of Catholics vote for me”.

    Perhaps he was right but, if so, none were of my acquaintance.

    He spoke in the House at the outset of the Troubles but in the twenty years prior to that his only intervention was during a debate on the length of Anglican clergymen’s cassocks. A pressing issue for his constituents no doubt (including the Catholics).

    Upon his retirement he was replaced by Enoch Powell who spoke rather too much both in the House and out of it.

  • cut the bull

    Sorry a bit of a mistake earlier here is the full extent of what Iwould presume to be Ian senior’s thoughts of moving away from his position as the MP for North Antrim

    Don’t cry for me Ballymena

    It won’t be easy; you’ll think it’s strange
    When you no longer hear me shout and scream,
    I’m in a love in with the Shinners, after all that I’ve done.
    You won’t believe me.
    All you will see is a big man you once knew,
    Although I’m dressed up to the nines
    At sixes and sevens with you.

    I had to let it happen; I had to change.
    Couldn’t stay all my life with the Papists under my heel
    Looking out of the window, staying out of the sun
    The Papists still want power sharing and freedom.
    Running around trying everything new,
    But nothing impressed me at all.
    I never expected it to.

    Don’t cry for me Ballymena.
    The truth is I never left you
    All through my wild days,
    My Third Force and Ulster Resistance,
    I kept my promise.
    Don’t keep your distance.

    And as for fortune, and as for fame,
    I always invited them in
    Though the world knew they were all I desired.
    I can’t help it that Junior has illusions;
    His spoofs are not the solutions they promised to be.
    The answer is here all the time
    I love him, but he’s an embarrassment to me.

    Have I said too much, there’s nothing more
    I can think of to say to you.
    But all you have to do is look at me not Junior to know
    That every word, I say is true.

    I’m the top dog in the Assembly, thanks to you
    I’m sorry if you think that I fooled you
    There’s no more, Never, Never, Never or Ulster says No
    I’m sharing power in Ulster with the IRA army council
    But I’m still loyal to the red, white and blue, so

    Don’t cry for me Ballymena.
    The truth is I never left you
    All through my wild days,
    My Third Force and Ulster Resistance,
    I kept my promise.
    Don’t keep your distance.

  • belfastpete

    They did win west belfast before diane dodds 2003, Sinn Fein will take North Antrim

  • An Lochlannach

    I’m talking about the Westminster seat, Pete.

  • belfastpete

    I know, Sinn Fein will still take it whether its for the Assembly or Westminster

  • Moe

    The plan was in 2005 for the Doc to stand aside for his son. He didn’t.

    The plan was that this year he’ll stand aside as Moderator of his Church. He now refuses to rule out that he’ll stand again.

    I’d be very surprised to see him give over any of his power.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Not if they get 14.2% of the vote again, belfastpete. Catch yourself on!

  • belfastpete

    Sure the DUP will be finished once big Ian goes, Jim McAllister’s new party will take alot of the votes as will the UUP, The unionist electorate in North Antrim will be heavily divided unlike the Pan Nationalist front led by Sinn Fein

  • Inspector Cleauso

    When Paisley steps aside as MP for NA it will the constituency association that decides on his replacement. IJP has a lot of support in the association not least for his work on local bread and butter issues.

    Furthermore he would win the seat on his name and work record albeit with a greatly reduced majority.

    The UUP are finsihed in NA (their Ballymoney office no longer exists) but the question remains what sort of inroads Aliister will make with protest votes.

  • A Junior v. Allister battle in North Antrim in 2009/10 might be worth watching. Don’t blame the old man for bailing out: Papa Doc must remember chasing a remote unionist prime minister around Bannside and didn’t fancy a sharper cookie like Jimbo doing the same to him in his dotage.

  • Factual

    In the 2005 Westminster election, the results were as so

    Weat Belfast

    Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein) 24,348 (70.5%, +4.4%)
    Alex Attwood (SDLP) 5,033 (14.6%, -4.3%)
    Diane Dodds (DUP) 3,652 (10.6% +4.2%)
    Chris McGimpsey (UUP) 779 (2.3% -3.9%)
    John Lowry (WP) 432 (1.3% -0.5%)
    Lynda Gilby (Vote for Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket) 154 (0.4% +0.2%)
    Liam Kennedy (Independent) 147 (0.4%)
    Valid Turnout 34,545 (64.2%)

    North Antrim

    Ian Paisley (DUP) 25,156 (54.8% +4.9%)
    Philip McGuigan (Sinn Fein) 7,191 (15.7% +5.9%)
    Rodney McCune (UUP) 6,637 (14.5% -6.5%)
    Sean Farren (SDLP) 5,585 (12.2% -4.6%)
    Jayne Dunlop (Alliance) 1,357 (3.0% +0.4%)
    Turnout 46,226

    Thus the likihood of either the DUP taking West Belfast or Sinn Fein taking North Antrim is unlikely.

  • An Lochlannach

    Factual – I was joking when I said that the DUP would take West Belfast.

  • Delta Omega

    Factual

    Thanks for the stats, but the facts of the matter are that these two parties are so joined at the hip now that it doesn’t matter which gets in. A vote for one might as well be a vote for the other

  • Brummie

    It has to be said that the lists at page one 8 and 9, could be contenders for the list of most boring people ever. (With the exception of the Doc. who I despise, but is not boring)

  • cut the bull

    If Ian senior stood aside to allow Ian jr to take a run at the North Antrim seat a Unionist along the lines of Jim Allister’s thinking would surely be in with a shout.

    Jim and IJP may both be seen as clowns by a lot of people, but Jim has not been accused of being a habitual stranger to the truth.

    That in itself means the world to a lot of people.