It’s hard to know what Gerry Adams really thinks about Ian Paisley. Last week, he refered to the First Minister as a fascinating and respectful in his dealings. Yesterday, at a Republican commemoration in Milltown Cemetary, he suggested in his address that the DUP had been ‘careless’ to lose, not one but two Paisleys. Anthony McIntyre thinks the Big Man has had the last laugh:
Ultimately, history might be unkind to Ian Paisley, judging him as the man who abandoned all his beliefs for a slice of power, only to fall on the extremist sword he had fashioned to perfection. A more astute assessment might well conclude that, in essence, the old theocrat never really changed. In government, he secured what had long eluded him outside of it — Sinn Fein’s acceptance of second-class citizenship. His perpetual dismissal of Martin McGuinness as ‘the deputy’ was par for the Paisley course. That the Derry Catholic should prove so deferential to the ‘big man’ negated a lifetime spent insisting that God made Catholics but the armalite rifle made them equal.
Ian Paisley can step into retirement chuckling at his achievements: partition into perpetuity and the union with Britain as secure as it has ever been. His has been one political odyssey that defies Enoch Powell’s dictum “all political careers end in failure”.