Brusque DUP statement rejects Paisley’s ‘forced out’ claims

Posted By: January 22, 2014

Ballymena Times ( County Antrim). January 21,2014

The already acrimonious relationship between the current leadership of the DUP and
its founder, Ian Paisley, is bordering on poisonous levels in the wake of last
night’s BBC interview in which Lord Bannside claimed he was ‘forced out’ of the
party he founded (writes Ballymena Times editor, Des Blackadder).

The former North Antrim MP and his wife Eileen told their side of the story in
graphic terms in an interview which amply illustrated the sense of bitterness felt
by the former leader.

A formal response from the DUP was issued just before 1am on Tuesday morning and
there was nothing conciliatory in its tone.

The party statement read: “At no point were those colleagues named in the programme
involved in any meeting where Dr Ian Paisley, as he was then known, was given an
ultimatum to step down as Democratic Unionist Party Leader. Nigel Dodds did not
issue an ultimatum that Ian should be gone by Friday nor did Peter Robinson issue
any two-month ultimatum. That simply did not happen. Nor did any meeting involving
those named by Dr Paisley take place in February as claimed in the programme.

“A delegation was charged by Assembly Members to express their views on a range of
issues to Dr Paisley. This meeting took place on 31st January 2008. When the
delegation relayed the opinions of Assembly Colleagues (they did not express their
own views) Ian did not accept that the account represented the position of

“Dr Paisley asked that a survey of MLAs and MPs be conducted by his Special Advisor
to give “a general view” of his standing in the Party. That survey was carried out
on 4th and 5th February 2008. The survey when completed in the manner he requested
was given to him marked “Strictly Private and Confidential” on 6th February 2008.

“On 4th March 2008, Dr Paisley sought a meeting with his Deputy Leader where he
indicated he intended to announce his retirement but said he first wanted to host
the International Investment Conference some two months later.

“As Lord Bannside has said in several interviews and in correspondence, he chose his
time of retirement, not anyone else, as has now been suggested. The Party is
saddened by this turn of events and has only chosen to correct some of the main
inaccuracies. A running commentary is unedifying.

“The Party is grateful for the good things that Dr Paisley did to bring about
political progress in Northern Ireland and continues to wish him well. The
Democratic Unionist Party does not intend to comment further.”

There has been a muted reaction in the Ballymena area – long regarded as Paisley

On the political front, there has been no breaking of ranks from the local DUP
membership. This is hardly surprising given that most of the Paisley old guard have
either passed on or have signed up to the ideals and policies expostulated by the
new leadership.

The DUP in Ballymena and North Antrim is now a radically different animal in
comparison to the no compromise, no surrender party based in grassroots loyalism of
Paisley’s charismatic glory days.

It was once a party which relied on pre-election parades and robust, megaphone
amplified roaring of old school loyalist cliches to harness votes. Nowadays, DUP
councillors are much more likely to be members of a Chamber of Commerce than hurling
chamber pots of invective at opponents.

Many of the new faces in the DUP’s political frontline were mere children in the
days when Paisley’s ‘not an inch’ rhetoric was the staple diet for his followers.

They are of a different breed to the ‘Paisleyites’ of yesteryear and it seems that
they will, despite their sense of irritation and discomfort, remain firmly within
the party fold.

So far, the current North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley Jnr. has maintained a stoic silence
on the issue, but his name did feature prominently in the revealing BBC interview
and social media, which now has a powerful and often brutal impact on poltical life
was packed with questions about his position.

At the last elections, Ian Junior romped home with a classic Paisley-style tsunami
of backing in North Antrim. Many will now be wondering how he can ride out the
cyclonic storm which has father and mother have unleashed.