Paisley protested over ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ smear in 1990

DUP leader complained about claim that ‘he would eat himself to death’

Ian Paisley claimed officials had suggested that he would ‘eat himself to death’ on fast-food. Photograph: Frank Miller

Ian Paisley claimed officials had suggested that he would ‘eat himself to death’ on fast-food. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

The DUP leader, the late Ian Paisley, complained to the Northern secretary Peter Brooke in 1990 about alleged attempts to smear him in the media.

In particular, he claimed officials had suggested that he would “eat himself to death” on fast-food. This is revealed in previously confidential files released by the Public Record Office in Belfast.

At a meeting between Paisley and the Ulster Unionist leader James Molyneaux with Brooke at Stormont Castle on February 19th 1991, the DUP leader said he was “disturbed” by NIO briefings with foreign and British journalists. These, he alleged, were extremely hostile to him. Local journalists had been excluded because, he said, “they would not fall for NIO disinformation”.

Paisley said a senior European journalist had informed him of a recent NIO (Northern Ireland Office) briefing which had suggested that “he was no longer a political force to be reckoned with” and was certain to lose the DUP leadership.

He referred also to a recent story in The Economist in which an NIO source quoted as hoping that Paisley would “he would eat himself to death on Kentucky Fried Chicken”. In addition, junior members of the DUP were being “wined and dined” by NIO officials, seeking to persuade them to be “disloyal to the leader”.

Brooke replied that he would take with “a pinch of salt” what any journalist told him about his sources. However, he undertook to have the allegations investigated.