Paisley jnr’s future not affected by father’s claims - Robinson
First Minister and Deputy First Minister again disagree over Haass proposals
The vehemence of Dr Ian Paisley’s criticism of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson in a BBC documentary has raised questions of implications for the political future of his son, North Antrim MP Ian Paisley jnr (above). Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Mr Robinson, who today made his first public appearance together with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness since the Haass squabbles of last week, repeated that he would not be held to any deadline for agreement on the proposals on parading, flags and the past.
Mr Robinson said today that he would not be making any further comment on the BBC documentary on the Rev Ian Paisley beyond the statement he already made denying the allegation that he played a part in forcing Dr Paisley to stand down as First Minister and DUP leader in 2008.
“I don’t intend to take part in these kind of recriminations, so really what part of silence to do you not understand,” he told reporters outside the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
The vehemence of Dr Paisley’s criticism of Mr Robinson has raised questions about whether the programme would have any implications for North Antrim MP Ian Paisley jnr’s political future.
Mr Robinson said Mr Paisley jnr was in a “difficult position”, but he did not intend to make life any more difficult for him. “I give him advice as a father rather than as a party leader or a First Minister: he should not say or do anything that makes his relationship with his family more difficult.
“That is an important element for him to keep, particularly at this stage of his parents’ lives,” he said.
“It will not affect [his future within the party], nor will it affect any relationship he has with me. I hope that he clearly gets that message,” added Mr Robinson.
Both Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness were attending a youth forum held under their “building a united community” initiative. It was their first time together in public since the Deputy First Minister said the DUP and Ulster Unionist Party were “dancing to the tune of extremists”, with Mr Robinson in turn accusing Mr McGuinness of speaking like a “dictator”.
In an earlier doorstep interview with reporters, Mr McGuinness said he would not enter into the “internal machinations” of the DUP when asked had he any comment to make about the BBC documentary on Dr Paisley. “I am still friendly with Ian Paisley at this time. We still keep in contact. I want to continue to remember the good bits, to remember the history-making developments that we were involved in,” he said.
On the stalled Haass proposals on parades, flags and the past, Mr McGuinness said current weekly talks involving the five party leaders should be concluded within weeks rather than months. “My sense of it is that if we are not going to see progress over the course of the next three weeks or so, it is very unlikely that we are going to see anything after that,” he said.
In the subsequent doorstep, Mr Robinson said the Haass issue had to be resolved, “whether it’s in three weeks, three months or three years”.
“Martin McGuinness does not control the timetable of the process,” he added. “It can be resolved but I am not going to hold myself to any deadline.”
Mr Robinson said Mr McGuinness’s comments about the Orange Order were not accurate or helpful. “The UVF and the Orange Order are not one and the same thing in Belfast. He knows that that is the case.”