“Whoever, one day, should succeed him, they are bound to continue that work too”

With the apparent growing acceptance, despite Mrs Paisley’s wishes, that Ian Paisley Snr’s leadership of the DUP “is coming to the latter stages” what happens next is now a valid topic for questions to the Republic of Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, and for Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, who held a bilateral meeting in Dublin today.

Mr Ahern said he would like to see Mr Paisley continue in his position for the short-term as he has been very influential in achieving power sharing in Northern Ireland.

He was speaking in Dublin after a bilateral meeting with Secretary of State Shaun Woodward.

He agreed that the Taoiseach and Government had enjoyed a good relationship with Dr Paisley which had been significant in making political progress.

“The DUP, like any other political party has its own internal machinations. It is a robust party and will make its own decisions in due course,” Mr Ahern said.

He said there many people in the DUP “well able” to lead the party and did not know if a change of leader would affect the stability of the Assembly.

Questioned by reporters on the same issue, Mr Woodward said the personal legacy of Dr Paisley would be enormous.

“He has led his party into a government, into a shared future that few could have imagined possible just a few years.

“Whoever, one day, should succeed him, they are bound to continue that work too,” Mr Woodward said.

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  • DC

    Well Eileen, perhaps if your husband wasn’t such a power-hunger belligerent beholder of a few caustic stratagems, he could have shared power a few years sooner if he only took his place. Maybe about a decade ago but some might say longer.

    Now he might not have been First Minister but he would have been influential enough to effect most of the change he wanted while on the inside.

    Maybe if he had have done this and bent his party to a better cause just like he claims that he’s now trying to do, he may well have beaten the darkness of the sun setting.

    And, nice to see you in the House of Lords, but what about pro-choice to abortion in N Ire? Nah, just like Big Ian you can’t see past your own noise.

  • Gerry lvs Castro

    Pro-choice for NI? Wise up DC — all the major parties are against it to a greater or lesser extent and if a referendum were held tomorrow, it would be soundly defeated.
    NI folk may not agree on much, but denying women the right to abortion is one prejudice they’re happy to flaunt.

    As regards Big Ian entering an assembly with SF 10+ years ago, such a move would have been as much political suicide as SF endorsing the PSNI or pushing for decommissioning.

  • DC

    Yes, Gerry, but you are relating back to a fixed set of circumstances forged by the then working of Paisely’s political strategy, at that time.

    The argument is that Paisley should have tempered sooner perhaps in line with the acceptable cooling around 10 years ago. It is in that context in which a different outcome perhaps a more positive and beneficial one may have been achieved.

    He didn’t and it would appear that he didn’t only for a quest of burning personal ambition not so much a wider-political one. The reason being for this is the fact that he has now forged a deal but this was done only when he had ridden to the top of the voting list via the dark horse of divisive rhetoric. Acceptance of the GFA has proved his stratagem.

    As per Sinn Fein, who knows if they can cut it as is but they talked for peace and were likely more flexible to react to a cooling, given the influence of Hume-Adams who, as one, were not allowing a total collapse. As proof has shown today.

    Re Abortion, in parity of esteem terms those that have processed their thoughts and answered to conscience and still want it done should not be held back by the express wishes of a larger rather oppressive cohort.

    Has Northern Ireland not learnt. It would not be like a propaganda campaign launch, but instead done softly not via any promotion but only when directly called upon as a matter of conscience, and examining precursors.

  • Gerry lvs Castro

    DC, coming from the Unionist viewpoint, it’s clear that the vast majority of Unionists simply would not have gone for SF in govt 10 years ago.
    Having lived through 30 years of concerted violent attack, they were unwilling to accept SF at face value in the short-term.
    With hindsight, the 1994 provo ceasefire can be seen as a mixture of political ambition and military necessity, but at the time it was regarded by many as a ploy to facilitate prisoner releases prior to further violence.

    The ceasefire was regarded with much distrust by Unionists at the time, a distrust partly vindicated by canary wharf and comments such as ‘they haven’t gone away you know.’

    No Unionist leader could have led his constituency into an assembly with SF at that point, and even several years later, Trimble’s hapless efforts at power-sharing with SF all but destroyed the UUP.

    Paisley, like SF, played the long game, letting Trimble take the prat-falls before claiming the prize for himself in true political fashion.

    The recent result in Dromore for the TUV, a party with no logical reason to exist, indicates that even Paisley may have jumped before his electorate was fully ready.

    Far from being visionary, both Paisley and Adams were to a large extent reacting to political and military expediencies.
    Adams was aware that the provo campaign was going nowhere. The organisation was riddled with informers (even more than most thought), loyalist paramilitaries were becoming more savage and reactionary and further violence was hobbling the SF vote.
    He opted for the peaceful strategy and is to be applauded for doing so. He has achieved none of his central aims — united Ireland, socialist republic or southern electoral breakthrough, but at least the body count has slowed to a trickle.

    Paisley, given the choice, would not have entered Stormont with SF this century. However the inevitable DUP move to centre stage following the UUP meltdown meant he had to make hard choices.]
    I believe that Blair & Ahern gave him the choice of power-sharing with SF or an impotent grandstand seat to witness effective joint authority.

    The position NI is in today is one unthinkable even five years ago, but it was brought about by slow negotiation and building of trust.
    A political dispensation in it’s current form simply wouldn’t have flown 10 years ago, and I personally wouldn’t bet the farm on it lasting 10 years now, but it’s a case of so far so good.

    DC I suspect we agree on the abortion issue, but Ireland in general is deeply conservative on this issue and it is one of the very few that the RC and Protestant churches all agree on, not to mention the vast majority of men and (depressingly) women.
    We may have Paisley & McGuinness chuckling together, we may have immigrants and gays treated with considerably more respect than before, but I honestly don’t ever envisage a scenario where Ireland, north or south, will countenance abortion on demand.

  • DC

    ‘A political dispensation in it’s current form simply wouldn’t have flown 10 years ago, and I personally wouldn’t bet the farm on it lasting 10 years now, but it’s a case of so far so good.’

    While your take is appealing it is played off against the heat that was stoked up against the stark realities of where Unionism was actually going.

    I do think it could have been deliverable if conditioned upon by Paisley through mature politics and a united-unionist front on stability grounds, leaving some areas for disagreement.

    The fact is Paisley achieved little or nothing in respect of ongoing change. The reality is that 10 years ago there was a government with brakes on the war-machine at 94 with a slip in 96.

    Paisley politics were wrong and clearly unproductive especially as we see now that he realises reconciliation is only deliverable from within and via ratcheting up of dialogue not old rhetoric that pandered to anxieties of unionists.

  • DC

    And btw P&J;along with backing for PSNI was not a pre-condition back then, it was largely just to get the Shinners to get the bloody ‘RA to disarm.

    And GlC, Paisley never got his pictures proving what the IRA had decommissioned. The DUP strategy was plagued in the end by swings and roundabouts scenarios just like the UUP but in the end the DUP won the internal bickering contest and the UUP cant be fucked arguing over inconsistencies in the DUP approach but they know the track is fixed.

    The DUP won out largely through political misrepresentations of Trimble’s direction and inability to preserve Ulster Paisley style. DUP claims to restore a large part of old-Ulster’s integrity never happened. And Ulster Paisley style is lost forever.

  • Gerry lvs Castro

    Can’t argue with most of your points DC.

    Ulster Paisley style is lost forever as you say, and for most Unionists that isn’t a bad thing.

    The fundamentalist Protestantism and never never attitudes were always deeply unappealing, but Unionists by definition want to preserve the union and often saw Paisley as a bulwark against the onslaught of violent republicanism.

    With hindsight, the NI problem has largely been one of complete intolerance for the other community’s position, partly due to lack of contact and partly down to sheer bigotry.

    The GFA and current Stormont dispensation has tempered this distrust from outright hostility to grudging stalemate, but the continuing ‘voluntary apartheid’ of housing areas and constant wrangles over emblems, commemerations and tribal matters merely keeps the pot simmering rather than any concerted move being made to embrace a shared future.

    Rather than acknowledging that NI will remain part of the UK for the forseeable future and working with that reality, SF seem hell-bent on riling Unionism at every turn, from their cynical choice of Martina Anderson for ‘Unionist outreach’ to their constant wailing over emblems, the Irish language and rather sad attempts at ‘troubles revisionism’.

    Likewise, the DUP have continued their ‘not an inch’ policy in govt, blocking and delaying everything in sight, resulting in an assembly of impotence.

    There are some signs that the constituency are moving on without the dinosaurs, but I suspect many former SF and DUP voters will simply stay at home rather than voting for more moderate parties, resulting in the status quo being maintained, albeit with a smaller mandate.

    As a Unionist, I’m perhaps in the minority by being more politically confident than at any time I can remember.
    NI’s position within the UK is assured for the forseeable future, the murder campaigns are largely over and a decent semblance of normality pervades the place. Long may it continue.