Boris Johnson cannot be trusted to handle NI affairs, says Paisley’s son

Kyle Paisley on family, faith and politics

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Ian Paisley jnr and Kyle Paisley, who was a guest on The Irish Times’ Borderlines podcast this week. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

British prime minister Boris Johnson cannot be trusted with handling Northern Ireland affairs, a son of the late Democratic Unionist Party founder, Ian Paisley, has said.

Kyle Paisley, a Free Presbyterian minister in the church established by his father, and a twin brother of the MP Ian Paisley jnr, was a guest on The Irish Times’ Borderlines podcast.

He approved of Britain's departure from the European Union, but said Brexit had been badly handled and that had given encouragement to republicans and nationalists who wanted a united Ireland.

“I think the impetus of republicans has certainly grown and they must be sitting back rubbing their hands with glee to see things in such disarray . . . It seems as though they feel they’re on the cusp of something that they’ve been looking for for decades. The disarray in unionist ranks has led into that too.


“I don’t think the prime minister in Britain is going to make any change. I wouldn’t trust him at all with handling Northern Ireland affairs. I think if he could do what Edward Heath was supposed to have said once, I think if he could tow Northern Ireland into the middle of the Atlantic and sink it, he would do it.”

Paisley said: “I think the drive to seek a united Ireland has intensified and when there’s uncertainty over Brexit it’s certainly fuelled that. Unless something is done, who knows where we’ll be in another five years’ time.

“I don’t know if there’ll be a united Ireland in my lifetime. Only a mug would say there’d be a united Ireland in the next five years, and equally it would be a fool who would put his money on there never being a united Ireland. There’s certainly more chance of it perhaps now because of the way things are than there was even 10 years ago.”

Reflecting on the positive relationship between his father, who served as the North’s first minister, and former deputy first minister the late Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin, Paisley said everything possible should be done to keep Stormont in place.

“If local government goes where is Northern Ireland? Northern Ireland came out of a cruel period of trouble and emerged to get its own government where it could rule itself and not have the same input from Britain and be a little bit more independent, in a sense, and do its own thing.

“Are we going to throw that away after 25 years? I think everything should be done if possible by all parties to save Stormont if they can. Hopefully it is savable.”

Speaking about his own identity, Paisley described himself as Irish. “I think it was my father who said you can’t really be an Ulsterman without being an Irishman. There’s certainly an Irish dimension to my identity. Also I would count myself British too because I’ve British citizenship and enjoy the benefits of the union with Britain.”

Recalling his early days in Belfast, he said his father was a “normal dad” who “joined in all the fun and games”. This included playing football in the garden, until his “youngest sister went in on a hard tackle but she must have caught his shin and it turned as purple as an apprentice boy’s sash so he retired hurt after that”.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Features Editor of The Irish Times

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times