Bring back Paisley?

Thanks to William Crawley for posting
some rare reflections from Ian Paisley at an Out to Lunch interview at Queen’s. which deserve wider circulation. Here is Paisley presenting himself as a loner doing the right thing at St Andrews, in that respect uncannily like Tony Blair whom he appears to distrust here. A whole generation has grown up without any personal knowledge of the other side of a personality who bears so much responsibility for stoking the troubles he eventually deigned to play a part in ending, (D.V) forty weary years on. The light touch interview style rooted in religion and laced with the flattery Paisley treats as his due draws him out well on the safe ground. We don’t get to hear how he felt at being ousted from the leadership of church and state. Paisley reserves some hot breath for Jim Allister but declines to say whether it’ll be he who’ll face him in whatever elections lie ahead. He flatly rules out any idea of a Sinn Fein First Minister. A more forensic treatment stretching back over his whole career would probably come up against the old brick wall. To do Paisley justice, I can’t help feeling that we could do with him on form in the front line today to make a bid to rescue what was to some extent, his personal achievement. Here, he makes it clear he’ll only offer advice to anyone who asks for it. Quotes from the interview below the fold, first from me, then from the transcript selections.Paisley on Paisley

Making the deal.

I always believed there were things you could get republicans to agree with you on.. to abide by the laws….you should not be out to kill policemen, and you should be prepared that if those who engaged in acts of violence repudiated them .. well and good.. we could have agreement. Sinn Fein came and said they were prepared to accept these three things.. on that basis we could have agreement.. I had been saying these things for five years/ I said very good, I’m a Christian, I have to speak the truth. You can rest assured no matter what the opposition – and I’m going to get plenty – I’m going ahead with what I‘ve done..”

On charges of selling out.

We were blamed for selling out.. we sold nobody out… It was a pity that some of my best friends in politics took another view. But the ones that matter most have come round and said, Ian, I apologise for blaming you.. “.

On the chuckle brothers
Why should I run around with a long face when I got what I wanted? No, it didn’t haunt me.. he who laughs last laughs longest.

(Transcript extracts)

[Martin McGuinness] took some risks. For a Sinn Fein leader to call other Republicans traitors when there was the shooting of the two Army men, I mean that was a very tough thing to say..
There were some individual matters that he had, home matters of people being ill and his mother being ill, and we prayed together. Well, I did the praying and he did the listening, but he wanted me to do it… I offered prayer for him, and I think that was the right thing to do, and I don’t care what people say. I hope that I have the same heart that Christ had, a love for others who needed help at times of need.’

I have made no contribution to that [the Robinson affair], and I don’t want to. I feel that that is something that has to be decided by those who are in the government at the moment. I think that you would know what my view is on that, but I don’t need to tell people.’

I think that there needs to be a top minister… we have to have a joint government at the moment. I would hope that we would develop into a full democracy, eventually. It would be a matter for… whoever won the election, but we’re far from that at the moment.’

‘[Jim McAllister is] a disappointment. I expected that he wouldn’t be a help, and he isn’t a help. But the people will put their Xs someday. A great day is coming. We will see then exactly what the people think of him, for it’s what they think of him, and not what I think of him, that matters.’

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London