DUP ‘saddened’ Paisley has damaged his political record
‘In his later years as party leader many colleagues shielded his frailty from public view’
Former Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley (87), who has levelled a series of allegations against current senior figures in the party, claiming they plotted his downfall. Photograph: BBC NI/PA
The DUP has stated it was “saddened” to see the Rev Ian Paisley “harm his legacy” following last night’s documentary in which he claimed senior party members such as Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds forced him to step down as DUP leader and first minister in 2008.
Senior figures such as Mr Robinson, Mr Dodds, party chairman Lord Morrow and Dr Paisley’s former special adviser Timothy Johnston all denied the central thrust of Dr Paisley’s allegations that senior members of the party hierarchy stabbed him in the back.
Implicit in a number of DUP statements was the claim the then 82-year-old Dr Paisley (now Lord Bannside) was not up to the job in 2008.
“In his later years as party leader many colleagues shielded his frailty from public view to avoid embarrassment and protect his legacy.
Excerpt from BBC programme
“Those people are hurt by untrue and bitter comments contained in the documentary,” said a DUP spokesman.
Not ‘pushed’ out
He also queried how Dr Paisley could now say he was forced from his post when at the time in 2008 he said he was not “pushed” out. Dr Paisley said in last night’s BBC documentary, Paisley: Genesis To Revelation – Face To Face With Eamonn Mallie, he took this stance to protect the party. Separately Mr Robinson said many will believe that in agreeing to participate in the programme, Dr Paisley did “nothing to enhance his legacy”.
“This is not the Ian Paisley we knew,” added Mr Robinson. “As someone who faithfully served Dr Paisley for many decades I will make one final sacrifice by not responding and causing any further damage to his legacy beyond that which he has done himself.
“Rather than return insult for insult, let me bless him with the mercy of my silence and wish him well,” he said.
The programme contains an allegation by Dr Paisley that in February 2008 deputy leader Nigel Dodds – whom he disparagingly described as the “Mighty Dodds” – demanded he resign within days, with Mr Robinson allegedly saying he could stay on for a few months.
In response, Mr Dodds said: “What is being said now by Lord Bannside about meetings is inaccurate and stands in stark contrast to everything that he said and did at the time and, indeed, during the years since.”
It was clear from last night’s documentary that Dr Paisley and his wife still feel betrayed by how his career ended.