Posted By: January 22, 2014

Fionnuala O’ Connor.Irish News( Belfast). January 21, 2014
MUCH though the DUP wants to close the show down, the Paisley Revenge might have a
little steam left. But since this was supposedly always more a man of God than a
politician, let us waste no time in drawing the morals. As he styled it himself in
‘Get Peter Part 2’ last night, “My work was as a Christian minister, that has always
come first.” It was as true as anything else he has said.

There is fun for outsiders in the spectacle of the DUP wobbling around to find the
right tone in which to explain that a.

Dr Paisley is 87, b. That’s very old, c. He forgets stuff and did we remember to say
first ‘what a giant, how tragic that he’s damaged his own legacy’?

But the legacy is safe. The legend in his own lifetime has always trailed a long
dark shadow. A preacher whose relationship with the truth was never any stronger
than his sense of responsibility, Ian Paisley is made of the same stuff now as in
his middle years. He showed the smaller chaps who eventually saw him off how best to
bully and belittle, to send writs at the least challenge, dish out insult but holler
blue murder at the least irreverence to themselves. There is a neatness in seeing
little bullies hoist by the daddy of them all – and struggling against the same gut
revulsion in the tribe that pushed them to be rid of him.

Big preacher-man clutching sledge-hammer made a fine election poster. But he didn’t
smash Sinn Fein, did he? He lived instead to share power and chuckles with former
IRA leader Martin McGuinness, once he’d harangued Ulster Unionism out of the way.

The fallen Great Leader has now taken the sledgehammer of TV to what’s left of the
clannish secrecy he built around church and street agitation. “I was not, I am not a
hinderer”, he said last night. “Einderer” doesn’t cut it, Doc. It’s panto season
now. Once a wrecker, always a wrecker.

When the perfect stage presented itself, he had full-throated support from Eileen,
Baroness Paisley of St George’s, with her little axe of spite and vengeance,
sometimes swopped for a cudgel. Of the disobliging survey of party opinion
commissioned by none other than her husband – Timothy’s boss – “I felt like taking it and ramming it down Timothy Johnston’s throat,” she said.

Dealing with the period when Ian jnr attracted unflattering publicity it was time
for the little axe: chop, chop. “There was no sleaze, his wife never did anything,
nothing wrong with his character. We know where the sleaze did come from. It came in
the home of the man who’s now leader himself, Peter Robinson. It came from his
family, not from the Paisley family.”

A match, that, for the observation of her equally ennobled partner: “I’m a very
happy man. My wife still lives with me and loves me.” Classy couple, the Paisleys.
Remember last week’s big laugh: “People who rioted have to pay for that, not me.”
There will be no death-bed repentance. If there was, who would believe a word of it.
It’s a contest of ego now. The past two Monday nights have been a rampage. To
flourish in the aftermath Peter Robinson – aka “The Beast,” the most awful
invocation of scripture – will have to summon every scrap of his own comparatively
fitful self-regard.

If he’d stay in one role long enough to communicate a settled sense of himself,
Robinson might even attract some sympathy. Fat chance he had of a smooth succession,
up against someone with a hotline to God, possibly possessed of divinity in his own
right. (“I regret that they do have not the ear of God on this matter” was the
slap-down for his church critics from on high last night.)

Whatever the repercussions inside the DUP from being mauled by their founding
father, the lasting question is how it affects the vote. Who profits from any
shake-out? Jim Allister at last?

What do you suppose was in that carrier-bag Jim handed the Doc, just before his
sackcloth and ashes play-acting? Something to eat? Always hungry, Doc. And now he’s
gobbled them all up. Well, it passed the time between bible-reading, looking out at
the lough, and rehearsing with his adoring family how great he is, how great he was,
and how that crowd – but especially the one who took his place – aren’t fit to shine his big black shoes.