Paisley: Genesis to Revelation (New Testament) – betrayal, hurt and a lack of grace and forgiveness

After last week’s warm-up, the second programme featuring Eamonn Mallie’s extended interviews with Ian Paisley (recorded between October 2012 and March 2013) began with an introduction to Ian Paisley’s strong relationship with his wife Eileen. It went on to cover:

  • The Leeds Castle talks.
  • Tony Blair’s admission that he was converting to Catholicism. You can hear Eileen laughing off-screen as he jokes about “getting a cane” if any of the Paisley children had come with a Catholic boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • Clips of his Ballymena speech for the IRA to wear sackcloth, decommissioning, and the decision to go into government. At times Ian Paisley looks to the side – presumably to his wife – and looks down at notes. (He knew advance the topics that would be covered in each interview, but not the specific questions.)
  • The opposition of Rev Ivan Foster’s and others to Paisley’s role as Free Presbyterian moderator and First Minister in government with Sinn Fein, leading to Paisley’s resignation as moderator (having won the vote to be Moderator for another year).
  • The attitude survey amongst DUP MLAs, remarks about Ian Paisley Jnr and other events leading up to his resignation as First Minister.
  • The Martyrs Memorial elders’ letter that led to his Ian Paisley’s resignation from the church he had founded.

Paisley 9x9While the programme ended with Ian Paisley saying he had “no major regrets”, the previous hour of footage was spent poring over and unpacking his belief that he had been ousted from being moderator of the denomination he helped found, asked to retire from being DUP leader and First Minister, and removed from being minister of his congregation.

So much of the programme was published in advance in this morning’s newspapers. Both the News Letter and the Irish News devoted seven pages to coverage and quotes from the programme, and the Belfast Telegraph ran several opinion pieces reacting to the press screening last Friday afternoon.

In many ways the broadcast programme was an anti-climax, putting pictures to already familiar words. It was a reminder that neither in politics of the church is loyalty is guaranteed to be for life.

The damage to the DUP is minimal, if at all. The party recognised that its leader was becoming a liability and moved swiftly to rectify the weakness. (The current DUP leader should remember that if he doesn’t set his own timetable to leave, the party will eventually do the same thing again.) The Free Presbyterian Church – and his own congregation – resolved to keep with their traditional values (if such a young denomination can have traditions!) and similarly engineered their leader’s departure.

Betrayal hurts. It takes a big character to stand back and accept what has happened with grace and humility. From what I’ve seen over the last two Monday nights, Ian Paisley is not that big character.

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  • SDLP supporter

    “See how these Christians love one another”. Tertullian

  • Ruarai

    “The damage to the DUP is minimal, if at all.”

    You sure about that Alonso?

    One under-used and overdue description of the DUP from its inception and throughout the Paisley years is: irrational. It had an irrational opposition to civil rights reforms, an irrational loathing of Catholicism and Catholics, an irrational hatred of London politicians, and an irrational vendetta against every unionist leader not named Rev. Ian Paisley.

    So what can explain the success of such an irrational politics? Above all, of course, the charisma – that most dangerous of political forces – of the preacher leader; Ulster’s own Protestant Pope.

    There are very few instances in politics, if any, of deputies sustaining the charismatic connection their former boss had built up with the base.

    Just because many of Paisley’s former followers felt betrayed by his willingness to trade a lifetime of opposition to compromising with Irish Nationalism for a local crown doesn’t mean they would or have switched their allegiance to others, whether the TUV or the current chuckle-less DUP leadership.

    Charisma (at the followers’ end) doesn’t tend to transfer, either it becomes sentimental and backwards-looking, or it erodes, or transforms into bitterness.

    So two thoughts:

    1. When a charismatic force as powerful as Ian Paisley focuses his wrath on an opponent, it’s unlikely that opponent suffers no consequence.

    2. Ian Paisley is Ireland’s resident expert in the art of isolating and eventually toppling the leading unionist politician of the day.

    Will he achieve that with Peter Robinson? It’s hard to see how, now that he no longer has a party, a profile, and a platform.

    But, given his record, his uniqueness as a political figure, and, especially, his focused loathing of Robinson, the idea that Robinson will suffer minimal harm from this is optimistic.

  • Mick Fealty

    As soon as Eileen stopped talking, the game was up for the old man. It ended on three signal forced exits. It was not good.

    And he won’t have done his son any good by it either who simply does not have enough allies. Machiavelli came up for me time and again:

    “Power can easily take a name, but a name cannot give power.”

  • Charles_Gould

    A lot of people say this will not hurt the DUP.

    I think the DUP have limited the damage, by the statement they put out.

    In Ballymena — for example — where Dr Paisley did have a personal support base, the local and European elections might see Allister or Nicholson rather than Dodds being the first choice for slightly more voters. People will feel the Paisley/DUP that they voted for is no longer the DUP they get today in Mrs Dodds.

    So I think there could be some damage.

  • qwerty12345

    They talk about Catholic guilt….

    Tonights show may have been about Ulster Evangelical guilt.

    That is, having been lead to the top of the hill, when the faithful saw Moses do the inevitable deal and have the audacity to seem to enjoy it they panicked.

    Booted out of his church, booted out of his party, booted even out of his place of sunday worship. They all in their hearts knew a deal had to be done but they needed someone to hate for it.

    I have to say Paisley and his wife come off looking rather well out of all of this. The DUP and the backwoodsmen like Ivan Foster not so much.

    Wow did I really just type that, Paisley coming out looking best out of that shower…..just shows what the rest are like.

  • DC

    Nice to see big Ian having pity only for himself. Poor me, I did a Trimble and now people are treating me like I treated Trimble – cry me a river Ian, cry me a river!

    I would agree there will be trouble ahead for the DUP as Robinson is finished and he wont be able to restyle the party leaving the field open to challenge by other political parties who might be in a better position to come up with alternatives to the DUP, while Robinson bluffs around pretending he can still do it for the next while.

    Although the DUP were right to get rid of Ian the man who couldn’t get the words out at the dispatch box when FM , he was well past it and it was his own fault for devoting his life to work in the opposite direction to the one he ended up in at that despatch box as FM.

    Game on for other political parties offering an alternative to this as the DUP are in Manchester United mode in terms of results and performance, clearly the DUP just haven’t got the style to govern, bitter, bigoted and a bunch of grumps.

    Not forgetting this of course:

    ‘Peter Robinson said Mr Trimble was “yesterday’s man”, while the UUP leader accused the DUP of “hiding” its leader during the election campaign.

    The DUP members said Mr Trimble was unable to campaign in Portadown, in his own Upper Bann constituency.

    “You can’t even walk in your own constituency,” said Iris Robinson.’

  • I think its a pity that everything was already in the public domain….over the last 48 hours.
    Paradoxically the BBC hyped its own programme, getting the big numbers and reducing its impact as it have given the DUP time to rally and get their retaliation in first.
    With very unsubtle references to Paisleys age, health and memory! the DUP did themselves more harm than good.
    Paisley…only human to have sympathy for him. But he too went too far. Personal attacks.
    So perhaps they just tore each other apart.
    Neither emerged that wel from it.

    But at the heart of it is the struggle between GOD and Mammon. The Free Presbyterian Church pre-dates DUP and there is a strong anti-politics element within Fundamentalism….and while I take the point that many DUP members are Free Ps …there is an undercurrent of resentment at political wheeling and dealing.
    Paisley could have seen that off with ease in the uncompromising days but he undermined his position with Compromise.
    Alan makes the point that he would have got a big stick to see off a child that had a relationship with a catholic….but to be fair “my love is greater than my hurt” was a very human response and to be taken more seriously than the “big stick” response.

    Mallies point about causing the Obituarists to re-write the script is well made. maybe that was the entire point.
    In this decade of Centenaries, many events are predictable but there are elephant traps out there….these two hours of TV was one event.
    But this was a VIRTUAL Obituary.
    At some future point, the balance of probability is that people will be called upon to pay tribute again….Robbo and Dodds will have microphones under their noses for a comment and theres even that awkward funeral to be dealt with.
    How that all plays out against Elections….well Timing is everything.

  • Ruarai


    Paisley may be older and less agile but so was Bobby Baccalieri, Sr. – and look at how that turned out for all involved, including his former Godson!

    The telling line from Baccalieri is apt in this case. Upon being warned that he’s told old to pull off one more take-down he said (paraphrasing) “what’s the difference to me, I’m gone already”.

    True, his lack of past agility lead to a some clumsiness – but the fall out, well see for yourself how it ended for all concerned the day the former main main decided on one last take-down.

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Excellent work Ruaraí.

  • Shibboleth

    Firstly, I agree with Alan that it was a bit of an anticlimax probably for most unless you are an anorak on these things. My impression of the programme was that if you are pro St Andrews then the first half of the programme won’t have made you flinch at all. The second half becomes more personal.

    What was particularly notable was that Ian admitted being dishonest with Mark Devenport for expediency. As a minister of the Gospel why grant the interview when you know that the main question will be your reason for going? This is the first time I ever recall Paisley making an admission that he had deliberately misled.

    The Survey was very interesting as it really tested Ian Paisley’s standing in a brutal manner. Are we supposed to believe that Ian requested it in that form knowing it could damage him hugely. The only possible answer I can see if you believe he set it up himself was that he had such an ego that he thought most of the Assembly Party loved him. It seems more likely to me that the survey was designed to shake him.

    My understanding from a senior DUP figure back in those days who I can’t name for several reasons (and who would be a Paisleyite) is that the big man was not deemed to be on top of the job due to increasing years. However Junior’s brashness (who I see more as Eileen’s son than Ian’s son) and nepotism as a Junior OFMDFM minister cannot have helped. His evasiveness over Seymour Sweeney “I know of him” did not help. And the devastating Dromore by-election defeat occurred for the DUP. Paisley’s star had fallen.

    When we get on to the alleged showdown between Ian, and the other four, it is interesting the way the DUP deny this. They deny the meeting took place in the exact form Ian says it did. Note they seem not to be denying the meeting happened. The other clever trick the DUP play with their statement is that they use Ian Paisley’s inconsistencies over his departure against him as evidence of senility without actually stating their own accounts of actual events.

    As William Crawley has pointed out (not in so much words) while the DUP have tried to paint Ian as a dithering old fool mis-remembering stuff, Eileen’s recollection also needs to be considered. Yes it is true she was not at Stormont meetings but she was Ian’s confidant and he told her what happened to him in these meetings. Are the DUP therefore implying that either Ian’s memory was so bad or he gave Eileen a distorted account of these meetings. The other possibility is that they are suggesting something more sinister on behalf of the Paisleys.

    What comes across from the show is that the Paisleys lost a lot of friends over these years. It seems that the Paisleys believed that Ian had a divine right to jobs for life. Anyone who dares challenge that is seen as an enemy. The saddest part is the admission that his family won’t enter Martyrs Memorial. What was of note in the letter from the seven elders that flashed up on screen was that he seemed to avoid meeting them on four occasions. Given that he was not a politician or the moderator, his schedule was presumably lighter. So why did he give them the run around before they asked for him to retire. This was not fully teased out and I imagine there is much more to this than the Paisleys said. While the Paisleys made much of saying that they were prepared to forgive Republicans it seems that such is the bitterness that they deem their opponents to have committed the unpardonable sin.

    My assessment is that the Paisley’s come across badly as egotistical and set on revenge. The Survey does suggest skullduggery of some sort took place and the DUP statements look like carefully chosen words not to self-incriminate. I also agree that there was an attempt to oust him.

    Gavin Robinson tweeted after the show the penultimate verse of James 1 which I render here “Jas 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” It would seem that Gavin (Peter’s Special Advisor) like many other DUP reps has been three-line-whipped into radio silence. So who is the verse aimed at – Is it the Twitterati or is it an assault on the Paisley families religion as worthless because they have loosed their tongues.

  • Shibboleth

    Anyway here is a nice family friendly video

  • Charles Gould[12.47] The damage to the DUP is located in the exposure of the pretence they are one big happy family. They can’t sell that anymore to their alzeimer damaged voters or anyone with half a brain extant. This is a dislocated family and just because Paisley damaged his lecacy it doesn’t follow that the DUP is immune from the fallout

  • Shibboleth

    I see the DUP have released a statement overnight denying everything and giving a version of events. Looking at a journalist’s Facebook page with the statement and seeing comments elsewhere the thought occurred to me:

    If Ian and family made such a fuss about darkening the church door of Martyrs why do Ian and Eileen remain as DUP members and presumably Jr too if things are irreconcilable with Peter and other senior DUP?

  • D.A.

    Surely they’re also still DUP peers, or am I mistaken?

  • BarneyT

    It seems Mrs Paisley, who came across as reasonable and capable of talking in universal and inclusive terms, was the push behind him when it came to entering government. Its hard to really understand her motivation?

    Take the position as first minister and don’t let SF or anyone else take that away from you?

    Stomach SF and the inevitable backlash to ensure your just legacy?

    I’d like to think there was a more moderate heart working his strings and that he did enter government to end the troubles, prevent further bloodshed and set us on the road to some sort of future.

    I am left wondering where she was through all the years of incitement and clear hatred he displayed. Shame she couldn’t influence a more moderate tone then.

    Paisley must take responsibility for creating many of the “monsters” that eventually stirred against him. If you train your pups to obey and sit, stay and rollover…don’t expect them to learn new tricks when you demand the impossible i.e. in their eyes go into government with an IRA man. That’s how they see it as that’s what they were conditioned to see and reject.

    However, if the extremist can do the impossible for “peace” then perhaps it has more resonance? Whatever way you look at it, Paisleys jump into government with Marty was a massive compromise and its a shame he could not have taken all with him.

  • Shibboleth

    Yes the Paisleys are DUP peers who are on a formal leave of absence from the House of Lords. It looks like it is designed for peers too infirm to participate. It undoubtedly suits them that they are not seen as working for the DUP and it also means that a withdrawal of the whip is totally meaningless.

  • Western Approaches

    After watching that interview, one gets the impression that it’s Mrs Paisley who’s really been in charge all along.

  • quality

    You can hear Eileen laughing off-screen as he jokes about “getting a cane” if any of the Paisley children had come with a Catholic boyfriend/girlfriend.

    Lovely family.

  • Morpheus

    I struggled to watch the programme to the end because I felt like I had heard and seen all the revelations before – very poor on behalf of the BBC to release so much beforehand.

    I don’t think there was too much that will impact the DUP unless those who were on the radio this morning describing how they were ‘in tears’ at how Paisley was treated are a significant group, something which is not outside the realms of possibility I suppose judging by the DUP’s core vote.

    It’s clear that Paisley was put between a rock and a hard place – he could:
    a. sign up to power-sharing and play an active role in the future of Northern Ireland or,
    b. refuse to sign up to power-sharing resulting in GB imposing Joint Authority and play no part in the future of Northern Ireland.

    He chose what he thought to be the lesser of 2 ‘evils’ and no doubt Robinson (or Deputy Dodd for that matter) would have made the same decision had they been wearing the crown.

    The young turks made him an easy scapegoat because they could still play a lead role in the future of NI (not to mention the salaries and pensions) but they could still keep the ‘Never Never Never’ crew on board by saying that it was all Paisley’s fault and they now have to clean up the mess he made in his doting twilight years.

    I thought Mrs Paisley came across very well as the voice of (relative) reason and I wish we had heard more from her over the years.

  • SDLP supporter

    Dodds, “the cheeky sod”. Will Eileen start a ‘Save Ulster from Doddomy’ campaign?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Given that next year’s general election will take place on a Thursday, the programme has given Gerry Kelly his slogan for the North Belfast campaign:

    Vote Kelly: Cheeky Sod Dodds will be gone by Friday!

  • The centrally controlled DUP appears to have limited room for dissent and the airing of dirty-washing in public.

    Was the timing of the broadcast significant? Was the local BBC deliberately exacting a measure of revenge in the run-up to the 2014 elections?

  • streetlegal

    The Paisley denunciations have dealt the final blow to Robinson’s leadership of the DUP. But Dodd’s prospect of taking over have also been destroyed. Now the way is clear for one man to push through and take control – and there is only one man who can do so and that man is Sammy Wilson. I understand that Sammy already has the support of Paisley Junior for the takeover.

  • DC


    I think that’s a sound comment you have made and Sammy Wilson as leader and Ian Jnr as deputy is a runner imo with a closer to the centre role for Arlene and Jeffrey.

    Sammy Wilson’s drawback is that he can be too silly at times but a plus is that he is able to continue on being ‘irrational’ but in a way that is not irritable unlike the others in the DUP.

    It’s over for Robinson, it really is.

    He doesn’t possess the style to govern with the Shinners but Sammy might be able to cut it.

  • David Crookes

    That is acute, streetlegal. Sammy’s occasional frivolity should blind no one to his ability. A bit of warm-hearted geniality will go a long way to undo the damage of recent weeks and months. We have had certain gentlemen taking themselves far too seriously for far too long.

    What Morpheus said in the penultimate paragraph of his last posting sounds altogether credible when you look at how people have behaved. Let IP do the deal, get rid of him after he does it, and then say we’re stuck with the deal but we’ll make sure there’s no more chuckling.

    I hope Sammy Wilson gets the leadership. If the mighty Dodds gets it I think I’ll go and live on Rockall.

  • sherdy

    ‘Its my party and I’ll cry if I want to’
    That old song title came to me last night as I watched the expose.
    Eamonn Mallie asked Paisley for an interview 20 years ago, and it was only granted in the last year. Now we know why.
    It was such a self-serving rant about how good he had been to all his lieutenants and they had all turned on him. Boo hop!
    The man had spent his life spewing hatred and bigotry, criticising and deliberately destroying people who offered an alternative opinion. And as a result of his rabble rousing so many people were killed by his supporters who were suddenly abandoned when brought before the law for taking his rantings literally.
    In those 40 years of mayhem caused by him, had he used his undeniable charisma for the good of the whole community, this wee bit of a country could have been a place of such greater hope and achievement.
    He created his own church and his own political party and cemented them with his bigotry, never once following the Christian ideal of ‘love thy neighbour’ and now he cries because they treated him the way he taught him.
    Certainly he did seem to change when he accepted the St Andrews agreement (was it the good influence of Marty?), but he never uttered a mea culpa or accepted that he had never done wrong or led any young turks in the wrong direction.
    So it is very difficult to feel much sympathy.
    While I believe that Eamonn Mallie, normally such a clued in journalist, was played by Paisley, to the extent that he seems to have just been asking the questions supplied by the Paisley family, I am sure the exposure he receives from these two programmes will do his career no harm at all.

  • Son of Strongbow

    So much surprise that politicians act like politicians? Or perhaps there are political groups out there that are internally governed by a spirit of bonhomie and goodwill to all?

    After all this style of behaviour is hardly unknown at the top of many organisations outside of politics.

    Still the DUP indulging in a little name calling and (allegedly) telling the Big Man to take a hike all seems rather tame. Other groups might have resolved the situation by having someone end up in a bin bag on the border.

    BBCNI indulged the Paisleys by providing the family patriarch (and Mrs P doing her bit on the sidelines, and coming across as a Lady Macbeth power-behind-the-throne figure) a platform to settle some scores. The resulting brouhaha probably sits quite comfortably with the Beeb’s approach to the DUP.

    As for the good folks of North Belfast; the choice between a “cheeky sod” and a terrorist bomber should really set their moral compasses into a spin.

  • FJH[1.12] Perhaps now we’ll hear less of the guff from the DUP about the party being just one big happy family, after these two hours of recriminations. Those in the DUP who felt the need to put out ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ type condescending statement’s about failure of memory, since they’d have to accuse Mrs Paisley of the same but she backed Ian up to the hilt, so that claim doesn’t have much clout. I’m reminded of the line from I Claudius at the end, ‘Let all the poison that lurks in the mud, hatch out’ Sums up this past week perfectly.

  • SDLP supporter

    Stop press…stop press…stop press.

    For Big Ian, it just gets worse, an awful lot worse:

    Revelations 13:18

    “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

    And the number assigned by the BBC Iplayer for the first Paisley interview is…666.

    Not a lot of people knew that, till now.

  • David Crookes

    It is possible that Orwell added together the numbers 1318 and 666 to get 1984.

  • sherdy

    SDLP, – And you think that fact may be just a coincidence rather than the decision of a Beeb person?

  • ‘I would agree there will be trouble ahead for the DUP as Robinson is finished and he wont be able to restyle the party leaving the field open to challenge by other political parties who might be in a better position to come up with alternatives to the DUP, while Robinson bluffs around pretending he can still do it for the next while.’


    I think I agree with Alan on this: the DUP’s unionist opposition is so weak that the DUP’s blunders are usually inconsequential.

    It is said that South Asian politics are dynastic because India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, have all been ruled for much of their democratic histories by a single family each and India’s states are controlled by family-based parties. But they have nothing on NI, which not only has three major dynasties in the Six Counties but in one party. The House of Paisley is now demolished and ruined. The House of Robinson is in eclipse, and as for the House of Dodds I don’t know enough about internal DUP politics to be able to say.

    Unfortunately, I cannot get the BBC interview in America and will have to wait until it goes to YouTube. But after having read Ed Moloney’s Paisley biography and that by academic Steve Bruce, I think that my opinion of Paisley is already well formed and won’t be affected much by seeing his famous vitriol. But the interview could indirectly affect Robinson’s standing by reminding people that this was the man that he chose to work very closely with for 29 years as Paisley’s deputy.

  • “One under-used and overdue description of the DUP from its inception and throughout the Paisley years is: irrational.”


    This was hardly unique to the DUP or even to unionist parties in general. Alliance and the SDLP–in its early days–were the exceptions to this rule.

  • DC

    I think I agree with Alan on this: the DUP’s unionist opposition is so weak that the DUP’s blunders are usually inconsequential.

    It looks that way especially seeing as the Unionist alternative in the east is not another Unionist party but East Belfast Agnosticism, that’s the Alliance where the Leader is agnostic on the Union but the deputy covering her ass like mad to secure designated days – having it every which way as and when suits is not a stable alternative and shouldn’t be that durable.

    You are right there isn’t much of an alternative out there but there could be. Any alternative must challenge the propaganda of the ‘DUP got us a better deal’ and took us somewhere better, the alternative should be grounded in reality. Those parties that signed up to the GFA should be reclaiming some lost ground based on Paisley’s interview.

    Big Ian was wrong in the end and Trimble called it right.

    A clearing out of the existing leadership might be a way for the DUP to skip the record on a bit to new ground – a bit more humble and less of Peter Robinson’s bravado Unionism.

    Tactically confident Unionism was the wrong call especially from a man who had lost his MP seat causing unionism to fragment and secondly the approach to the flag was tactically a wrong call – the leaflet was too little too late and far too heated to effect a more favourable outcome. The flag issue from the DUP’s point of view, talk about drawing attention to yourself about a vote that you were going to lose. Yes the Alliance looked bad but equally so the DUP. Heads up the flag’s coming down and we can’t do anything about and we are going to lose this one – but we would like to draw your attention to this!! Thank you good night.

    How it affects Alliance is a matter for Alliance and that section of the Unionist vote or section of the constituency yes perhaps some DUP votes went Alliance’s way, but you would’ve thought more UUP in outlook – I’m not quite sure.

    SF pressed all the right buttons to expose the lie behind confident Unionism and the leaflet just helped to reinforce that lie, as things spilled out of control with trouble breaking out onto the street. No thanks to Alliance of course, who as change makers needed to do a bit of conditioning of its own in order to bring people into line with a decision that I don’t think a lot of east Belfast constituents wanted to see happen in the circumstances.

  • Mark

    What time does Robinson’s flight for Florida leave at ?

    Re the programme : I don’t believe a word that comes out of IP’s mouth . The ” Show ” had a stage managed feel about it . It was like one of those confession talk shows you see in the US with some athlete / actor / sportsperson saying sorry for whatever sin they’ve comitted but without the confession from IP .

    He’d have hit the roof if one of his kids brought home a catholic . Can you really see Paddy around for sunday lunch in the Casa Paisley ? Even the Mrs Paisleys remark about you know who was something you’d hear from Joan Rivers .

    How can you have any sympathy for a man who refused to stop lighting the orange / blue touch paper for most of the troubles . I The man was indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people ….IMO of course .

    Sinn Fein must be pissing themselves tonight ….

  • Mark

    A thousand apologies for the typos .

  • pauluk

    I can’t see this unfortunate episode for the Paisleys doing any harm to the DUP. The party has become quite a broad church compared to the early days.

  • David Crookes

    Broad church certainly, pauluk, but the sight of Mervyn Gibson occupying the bishop’s throne has done the party a lot of harm.

  • There is an element of shadow boxing about Norn Iron politics.
    We have too easily accepted that parties only ever do damage to themselves.
    We have forgotten that parties can do damage to each other. Indeed the parties themselves seem to have forgotten that.
    The conventional wisdom is that there will be no electoral damage to the DUP. That may or may not be the case but it certainly becomes the case if the other parties dont follow thru.
    If its allowed to fade from the public scene and theDUP close it down, then there will be no damage.
    But the clearest lesson of the past 12 months is that “social media” can be used for satire and to heap ridicule on a target.
    The DUP are legitimate targets for ridicule.
    Indeed Mr and Mrs Paisley gave us some nice nicknames for Robinson and Dodds which should be thrown at them at every opportunity.
    And Robinson himself gave us a great quote that must be used again and again.

    The Meek might well inherit the Earth. But not in Norn Iron. We are too genteel with some pretty awful politicians.
    We follow them on Twitter, have tea and vol au vents at receptions and vie to get our photos in the Ulster Tatler.
    “Yes Minister”
    “No Minister”
    “Very amusing anecdote Minister”.

    These people are reviled in private and fawned on in public.
    Too many “respectable” people want to have it both ways.
    Somehow we have wandered into a respectable world, where these people are given undue respect.
    We have come to believe that these people are indestructible. Clearly they are not. There is a massive chink in the DUP armour. They cant be allowed to repair it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree with some of the comments above.

    I still find myself coming to terms with these programmes and the reactions to them.

    Overall I have to wonder about the timing. Why has Ian decided after 5 years to come out with all of this, rather than doing it at the time ? I can’t believe it’s just a random decision, there’s something going on in the background. Chances are that whatever it is, it’s something to do with Ian Junior (whose future in the DUP must surely be in doubt).

    To the programme itself .. part of me feels very sorry watching for the somewhat soft-spoken, aging politician (and his highly respectable, Presbyterian wife in their very Presbyterian house) being done over by younger men who had decided that they had gone beyond the point where they were useful.

    However I remember well, back at that time, friends who worked at Stormont commenting on how unwell Ian Paisley was. He had the energy to work no more than 1-2 hours per day and had difficulty moving about. Some might remember the particular point where Martin McGuinness gingerly lent him a supporting hand as he made his way into a building.

    All of this is to be expected given his age and the fact that he had not been long recovered from an extremely serious, life-threatening illness; and there must have been very real concerns that had he continue to take on the burdens of office it could have shortened his life significantly. It was a given that Robinson was running the party at that time and for many years previous. When Paisley’s stepping down came, there was nothing at all surprising about it.

    I also thought it interesting that Paisley and his wife both asked, aloud, where these people (whether in his church, or his party) thought these “cheeky sods” and others got the right to ask him to resign. The answer to that should of course be that they had every right to do so, as they were all senior officials/representatives of the church and the party and therefore had a say in its future direction. But when you combine this comment, with the other line he dropped about having the ear of God, you start to see that despite protests to the contrary about not being a pope, this man did see himself as beyond reproach and clearly decided that nobody, other than God, had the right to put him out of office.

    The DUP are definitely coming off the worse from this. I don’t think they’ll lose many votes from the whole thing but it looks bad. Aside from their treatment of their elderly father-figure, I was particularly struck by the fact that the DUP leadership considered Paisley’s warm relationship with Martin McGuinness to be a problem. It reinforces my view that this is a party which feels threatened by nationalists and unionists working together and having a smile on their face while they’re doing it.

  • David Crookes

    “It reinforces my view that this is a party which feels threatened by nationalists and unionists working together and having a smile on their face while they’re doing it.”

    Agree 100%, CS.

  • sherdy

    We heard last night how well our wee lad Ian did in his last election compared to the party leader. I wonder was that wise.

    Surely that puts him firmly in the spotlight, and he’s in enough of a dilemma. Naturally he will support his Ma and his Da, but if this is to Robbo’s detriment he may find himself out on a limb.

    Robbo has never been known as a very forgiving leader, and with Wee Ian a ‘successful’ MP, getting extra money and perks from the tobacco industry, I wonder whether he might find the gods of envy looking at him and moving him onto shifting sands, and deselection staring him in the face.

    If that happened, would he try to stand as an independent, in opposition to the DUP and possibly the TUV, with a very weakened power base, facing the prospect of finishing in an embarrassing third place.
    If I were a betting man I would not back Wee Ian to have much future in Westminster.

  • Comrade Stalin


    I think when people talk about the party not being damaged they mean it is likely that most of the people who vote for it will continue to do so. Much as with Sinn Féin and the various crises associated with its leader.

    I do wonder, though, if at this point they’re going to have trouble keeping things together. How many regular members will have been upset at seeing how Paisley was treated by the two most senior figures in the party ? The esteem with which Paisley is held in is not to be underestimated. These are people who bring their newborn children to see him. And where’s Ian Junior in all this ? If they stabbed his dad in the back what are they going to do to him ? More importantly why does he want to continue working under their leadership ?

    In some ways Robinson is the party’s biggest weakness. He can’t let any perceived slight lie and his angry rebuttals expose him as an ill-tempered and nasty piece of work.

  • Comrade Stalin


    A three way split in North Antrim between Paisley, Jim Allister and someone like Mervyn Storey as the DUP candidate is going to be the best entertainment of the election (next to the Dodds vs Kelly square off in N Belfast).

  • Gopher

    Problem is everyone picked the wrong fight with the DUP so I cant really see any serious blows being landed from without. From within there is no party for any DUP guy to defect to unlike the meltdown that occurred within the UUP where the DUP was the obvious destination. So damage there will be limited. Dont think Jnr can hold a MLA seat and a Westminster one so the DUP essentially lose nothing if he goes it alone.

    This episode show just what a woeful state the UUP are in rather than any weakness in the DUP. There is simply no one there to capitalize.

    Hopefully NI 21 can make an inroads at the next election to give a rallying point for people who dont what a theocracy cause thats were the executive is taking us.

  • BluesJazz

    IP junior is already a millionaire through his pre Westminster property dealings and his (massive) expenses at Westminster.

    He wont be trading in his Range Rover Sport for a Nissan Micra in the short to medium future.

    Robinson will stay on (He’s hardly likely to want to “spend more time with his family”).

    The Trumpton assembly members just want to hold on for salaries and pensions. That’s the bottom line.

  • D.A.

    From a purely technical point of view, it was very poorly put together – random camera movements during some answers, random zooming in on Paisley, extremely obvious editing together of two completely separate interview sessions (yes, I know that probably happens all the time, but they normally do their best to cover up continuity issues).

    I notice it seemed to be produced by Mallie’s own production company, but it did come across as a bit slipshod in places.

  • quality

    Comrade Stalin

    Politics is a lot about stage managing and, in the north especially, pandering to a relatively paranoid electorate.

    If you build a whole career around saying ‘no’, whether that be no to armed force republicanism, the pope, the civil rights movement and (most crucially) the Good Friday Agreement, I can’t understand why people might be a bit miffed when you say ‘yes’.

    To do it with a smile on his face, after everything he spent years ‘preaching’ about, was probably salt in the wounds for a lot of people. I think that’s understandable from a supporter base and party colleagues concerned about the supporter base (though not necessarily something to condone).

    General reflections on the Big Man, he’s like someone who shakes up a can of Coke. Someone else opens it, blames him and he replies “well you opened it”. Sometimes the true colours shone through, Dublin/Monaghan in particular, but largely an exercise in revisionism. Still fascinating to watch though.

  • quality


    The main error I noticed was in Episode 1. Paisley says reasonable things about Bloody Sunday and how the cover up was shameful (paraphrasing). Mallie then asks him if he was ’embarrassed’ by David Cameron’s statement. Strange line of questioning, Mallie should have reacted to the answer, not asked his pre-scripted question.

  • “Overall I have to wonder about the timing. Why has Ian decided after 5 years to come out with all of this, rather than doing it at the time ? I can’t believe it’s just a random decision, there’s something going on in the background. Chances are that whatever it is, it’s something to do with Ian Junior (whose future in the DUP must surely be in doubt).”

    @Comrade Stalin,

    It is likely that one or both of the following two causes provided his motivation. First, that he simply decided that nothing he said could any longer hurt the House of Paisley because of Junior’s fall within the party. Second, he has been informed by his doctors or simply felt in his bones that he did not have long to live and wanted to get his licks in while he still felt strong enough to do so.

    “If you build a whole career around saying ‘no’, whether that be no to armed force republicanism, the pope, the civil rights movement and (most crucially) the Good Friday Agreement, I can’t understand why people might be a bit miffed when you say ‘yes’.”


    If one’s whole career is about saying no to change than to suddenly say yes throws one’s supporters into a quandry. Was what their Dear Leader said all those years no longer true and valid? If it still is true and valid, then why did the Dear Leader sell out or change his mind? If it is no longer valid, maybe it never was valid and true and so one must question one’s faith in the Dear Leader? In either case it is very troubling.

  • Charles_Gould

    I tend to differ from others here.

    I think the DUP needed to get rid of Paisley; he was too old and not doing the job. They managed his replacement well. Compare Thatcher and Blair; its not easy to get rid of someone. The Public, including those in North Antrim understand all of this as shown in the Vox Pops in the Newsletter.

    As for Junior, he will stay a DUP MP, and of course Robinson will stay as FM.

  • BluesJazz

    “As for Junior, he will stay a DUP MP, and of course Robinson will stay as FM.”

    Into my heart an air that kills
    From yon far country blows:
    What are those blue remembered hills,
    What spires, what farms are those?

    That is the land of lost content,
    I see it shining plain,
    The happy highways where I went
    And cannot come again.

  • BluesJazz

    The next ‘Assembly’ will be the same as the last.
    Nothing will happen. That suits NI’s ageing population.
    The cargo cult block grant will come over. From GB.
    And so it goes….

  • Reader

    BluesJazz: The cargo cult block grant will come over. From GB.
    There’s a sudden horrible thought. The OO looks and sounds like a Cargo cult, but without the relatively high level of sophistication and insight you would expect from Pacific island Cargo cults.

  • Morpheus

    Looks like US intelligence put Robinson down as the brains behind Paisley’s departure from the DUP:

  • sherdy

    Robbo’s speech this morning when he issued ‘fatherly advice’ to Ian Og must have sent a serious chill down his spine.
    Maybe I’m wrongly reading between the lines, but it seemed to translate as: ‘Keep your mouth shut or you’re out’.
    And whether the advice is heeded or not, the end result will be the same – exit stage left.
    We can expect, in good time before the Westminster elections, for little salacious stories to emanate from God knows where (but we can guess), building up to a torrent which will leave Machiavelli Robinson with no option but to ‘unfortunately’ deselect Ian, while paying glowing tributes for his wonderful service to the party.
    And Robbo has let us know that when it happens he will blame the media for making it more difficult for Ian.
    The writing is on the wall and even the dogs in the street can read it (sorry to mix my metaphors).

  • Charles_Gould

    I wonder if Ian Junior would defect to the Tories or UKIP?

  • sherdy

    Wise up, Charles. No one else would have him.
    Maybe the tobacco companies will keep him on.
    But his political career is up in smoke.

  • Morpheus

    I never thought I would see the day but I am starting to feel a very slight twinge of pity for the Paisleys