Ireland’s partition perhaps ‘a wrong division’, says Eileen Paisley

MLAs taking salaries and not fulfilling their full role at Stormont ‘abominable’

Baroness Eileen Paisley has said the partition of Ireland was perhaps "a wrong division".

The widow of the late former first minister and ex-DUP leader Ian Paisley made the comment at the Bannside Library in east Belfast for a Sunday Sequence programme broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster at the weekend.

Current DUP leader Arlene Foster previously said she would live elsewhere if there was Irish unity.

When asked if she could live in a united Ireland, Mrs Paisley said: “It would depend, I suppose, on what, on how it was being ruled.


“I wouldn’t like a dictatorship and I wouldn’t like a person, because of whatever their religion was, to be persecuted because of that.”

Speaking about the partition of Ireland, she said: “If you go right back to the beginning, the dividing of Ireland, I think the Irish people all over, north, south, east and west, I think they are a great people.

“And especially when you are away from home and you meet another person, no matter what part of Ireland they come from, by their different accents, you would say that man is from the south, or that, or that person, but they are a fellow countryman of yours or woman.

“I just wonder why it had to be divided at that time and I think perhaps that was a wrong division.

‘Freedom of worship’

“And I think Lord Carson was not for dividing Ireland but that is too big an issue for me to make a decision on, or pontificate on.”

On the question of whether she could stay living in Belfast if Ireland was united, she said: “I would like to think I could. It would take a lot to move me out of it. You know if we have freedom of worship and freedom of choice in life.”

She said she was sure “there are enough people of sense and sensibility who do not want to be fighting with their neighbours or their friends to want to have it properly united”.

Addressing the Stormont impasse, she said it was “abominable” for MLAs to be taking salaries when they were not doing their full role.

She believes politicians need to “lay aside a lot of the baggage they are carrying”.

“People are crying out for help and they are failing them,” she said. “I would say cut out the petty nonsense.”

On a difficult relationship with the Free Presbyterian Church her husband founded and was later ostracised from, Mrs Paisley said she forgives them as a Christian but finds it “difficult to deal with”: “Ian was grieved and I think maybe it shortened his life.”