Some questions for Mr Paisley Junior…

David Gordon has kindly let us have his thoughts on Junior’s ‘shopping list’ and repeats his long standing offer to give him space in the Belfast Telegraph to put his own case in the matter… There are many more questions than answers…By David Gordon

One key question stands out on the revelations about Ian Paisley jnr’s St Andrews shopping list.
The junior Minister has argued that his constituency requests were raised with direct rule Ministers “on the margins over a cup of tea at various meetings”.
He also maintains they were not connected to the talks on restoring devolution, and that he did not ask for them to be raised with the Prime Minister.
So why did the Northern Ireland Office take them so seriously?
Why were they brought to Tony Blair personally, who was fairly busy at the time, not just with the Northern Ireland negotiations but with yet another Iraq-related crisis?
“The Prime Minister has considered your requests and has agreed that we should try to respond positively,” stated Minister David Hanson, in a letter to Mr Paisley jnr on the crucial last day of the St Andrews talks.
Mr Hanson added: “This letter should be regarded as a statement of intent.”
Could it possibly have been that the NIO saw the North Antrim MLA as central to its task at St Andrews?
After all, he was not just a key party figure and negotiator, but the son of the one man who could single-handedly kill or seal a power-sharing deal.
It would hardly have been surprising if the direct rule team had been keen to keep Ian jnr happy.
And that would mean he had more leverage with the NIO at St Andrews than at any time previously.
Other DUP MLAs could be forgiven for feeling put out, given the new revelations.
Did any of them get the chance to submit constituency requests to the PM?
The answer appears to be no.
And what about the list itself?
To what extent did it reflect the main issues facing North Antrim in October 2006?
There is nothing on it regarding health or education facilities, for example.
And it seems somewhat bizarre that Mr Blair was being asked to consider constituency-level planning issues well below the radar of his normal responsibilities.
Also, if North Antrim constituents had been polled on their top priorities, would they have listed planning approval for a resort spa with 200 homes?
Would their main goals also have included development opportunities for businessman Seymour Sweeney at the Giant’s Causeway and Ballee, Ballymena?
That question, I believe, will be added to those already asked about lobbying on issues related to Mr Sweeney’s business interests.
Should Mr Paisley jnr, for example, have lobbied for a Sweeney holiday home development near Bushmills and later bought one of the properties himself?
Why, until recently, was this house still registered with the Land Registry in the name of Mr Sweeney’s wife?
Why was a public body told by Ian Paisley snr that the developer’s Causeway centre plans had the support of world heritage body UNESCO — a claim that UNESCO has flatly denied.
Should Mr Paisley jnr have lobbied fellow Stormont Minister Margaret Ritchie last year on the sale of the Ballee land — to ex-owners who planned to sell it on to Mr Sweeney and others?
The Belfast Telegraph would like to ask such questions to Mr Paisley jnr personally.
But he has not taken up a long-standing offer of a detailed interview to put his case.
That offer still stands.

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  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    Tell us more about this.

  • jerryp

    Ian óg looks like having all the potential to be FF’s first ever Northern Ireland candidate in the European elections.

  • J Kelly

    He has read the FF green book from cover to cover.

  • Moe

    “Could it possibly have been that the NIO saw the North Antrim MLA as central to its task at St Andrews?
    After all, he was not just a key party figure and negotiator, but the son of the one man who could single-handedly kill or seal a power-sharing deal.
    It would hardly have been surprising if the direct rule team had been keen to keep Ian jnr happy.
    And that would mean he had more leverage with the NIO at St Andrews than at any time previously.”

    That sums it up. Why waste this leverage on petty requests for his friends/lobster fishing companions? Good to see Ian got into politics for all the right reasons.

    But what will the next piece of scandal be about Ian Junior? It’s not going away you know.

  • URQUHART

    Very predictable jerryp, but well wide of the mark.

    D Gordon and C Thornton have turned that newspaper around. Congratulations to them both.

  • Stamper

    Moe: “But what will the next piece of scandal be about Ian Junior? It’s not going away you know.”

    Dropping Little hints like that only infuriate readers Moe. What are you talking about??????

  • Nice to see Mr Gordon picking up the crumbs from Slugger’s table, again.

    He’s identified the agenda, though. Provided everyone sings from the same hymn-sheet (which probably won’t include our Free Presbyterian brethren) we might get an answering baritone.

    And I’m not so sure that the FF analogy works too well.

    What is amazing, so far as the public record shows, is that Junior seems to have acted reasonably selflessly (if we take him on his own statements). Others, cruelly, might interpret that as “selling himself cheaply”: he has/had political clout, but has squandered it on this business.

    There are mega-millions involved in the Seaport proposals (where that money is coming from is another mystery), and Junior seems to have had little more than a lobstering out of it. In which context, note Gordon’s carefully-phrased (or the lawyerly dictation over his shoulder):

    Should Mr Paisley jnr, for example, have lobbied for a Sweeney holiday home development near Bushmills and later bought one of the properties himself?.

  • Alex S

    The bit I find hard to believe is the Jun lobbied everybody except the DUP Minister responsible for planning, does not add up!

  • Comrade Stalin

    D Gordon and C Thornton have turned that newspaper around. Congratulations to them both.

    Are you talking about the Belfast Telegraph ? It’s a pathetic purile prurient tabloid. It would be twice as good if they stopped doing stories about “tots”, let’s-all-point-and-take-pity articles about people with unusual disabilities or disfigurements, or doing pointless constant salivating-dirty-old-man missives about Katie Melua, Zoe Salmon, and whoever Miss Northern Ireland is this year.

  • Malcolm, David Gordon has done a lot of excellent research and unearthed several documents using the FoI regulations. His reports have regularly been the basis of Slugger threads. You must have missed them!!

  • seanzmct

    David Gordon is clearly one of the very best investigative journalists this place has produced and thank goodness that the BT has him. He is to be congratulated for his dogged interrogation of that pinstriped sleazo Paisley Jnr

    But that is not the point. The point is that Ian Jnr, who keeps asserting that he has nothing to either fear or hide, will not come forward and attempt to clear the air in an interview with the
    Belfast Telegraph. Why not? Answer: because he can fob off the likes of Steven Nolan but would not get away with dissembling blather in front of a heavyweight like Gordon.

  • seanzmct

    David Gordon is clearly one of the very best investigative journalists this place has produced and thank goodness that the BT has him. He is to be congratulated for his dogged interrogation of that pinstriped sleazo Paisley Jnr

    But that is not the point. The point is that Ian Jnr, who keeps asserting that he has nothing to either fear or hide, will not come forward and attempt to clear the air in an interview with the
    Belfast Telegraph. Why not? Answer: because he can fob off the likes of Nolan but would not get away with dissembling blather in front of a heavyweight like Gordon.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Actually, I don’t think he has come across all that well on Nolan’s show at all.

  • Paul

    The Baby Doc issues only highlights how useless the media are in NI.

    They tell us that at first Baby ‘claims’ to not know Sweeney. Then that he wrote an inaccurate letter according to official at UNESCO. That he has a house in a Sweeney development and now the side deals at St. Andrew’s that appear to include another Sweeney link.

    Either these thngs are true or not. If not then they should be dropped. But if so the press should be driving a cart and horses through all of this.