No resignation ultimatum given to Paisley in 2008 by senior party colleagues, DUP says
In BBC documentary Paisley said in February 2008 Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds told him he must resign
Former Democratic Unionist leader Dr Ian Paisley: second part of documentary drew an audience of 258,000, which is 50 per cent of the Northern Ireland television viewership in the 10.35pm-11.35pm slot. Photograph: PA.
The Democratic Unionist Party
has emphatically denied a critical element of a BBC documentary on Ian Paisley in which the former First Minister said the party’s two most senior figures demanded that he resign.
The programme, Paisley: Genesis to Revelation – Face to Face with Eamonn Mallie, the second part of which was broadcast on Monday, drew an audience of 258,000, which is 50 per cent of the Northern Ireland television viewership in the 10.35pm-11.35pm slot, according to the BBC.
In the programme, Dr Paisley said that in February 2008 current First Minister Peter Robinson and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, among others, told him in his Stormont Castle office that he must resign.
Stand down ‘by Friday’
Dr Paisley (now Lord Bannside) said Mr Dodds said he had to stand down as First Minister and DUP leader “by Friday” of that week, while Mr Robinson said: “Oh no, no, no, he needs to stay in for another couple of months.”
According to Dr Paisley’s account, this led to a sequence of events in which the following month he announced he would be standing down that May as First Minister and DUP leader.
In a statement yesterday, however, the DUP issued a categorical denial of this account.
“At no point were those colleagues named in the programme involved in any meeting where Dr Ian Paisley, as he was then known, was given an ultimatum to step down as Democratic Unionist Party leader,” the statement said.
“Nigel Dodds did not issue an ultimatum that Ian should be gone by Friday, nor did Peter Robinson issue any two-month ultimatum. That simply did not happen. Nor did any meeting involving those named by Dr Paisley take place in February as claimed in the programme,” the statement added.
The DUP said, however, that a DUP delegation had gone to Dr Paisley on January 31st, 2008, to express their views to him “on a range of issues”.
The DUP said Dr Paisley “did not accept” that the account relayed to him of the opinions of DUP Assembly members represented their true position.
This, the DUP said, led to Dr Paisley’s special adviser Timothy Johnston being asked by Dr Paisley to conduct a special survey to provide “a general view” of his standing in the party. This survey found that 83 per cent of DUP MLAs felt Dr Paisley should resign.
In the programme, Dr Paisley contended the survey was devised to damage him – an allegation Mr Johnston and the party have denied.