Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Robinson's sadness at personal nature of comments

Question: Peter Robinson

First Minister Peter Robinson has again suggested that Ian Paisley's memory is failing him, as the two unionist leaders continue to clash over the infamous loyalist invasion of Clontibret.

The DUP leader spoke of his sadness that the BBC's two-part programme on Mr Paisley had portrayed divisions between them.

In the first part of the programme, Mr Paisley scorned Mr Robinson's involvement in the invasion of the village of Clontibret, just across the border.

Mr Robinson has already challenged Mr Paisley's account as "a failure of recollection" and said Mr Paisley "was the one who had agreed to go to Clontibret".

Yesterday the SDLP's John Dallat said he would publicly apologise if he had said something in the past that was wrong.

"Will he now encourage his former party leader to do likewise?" he asked.

Mr Robinson replied: "Let me say this about the programme that seems to have stirred up interest: Ian Paisley has been a major figure in public life in Northern Ireland for many generations.

"The fact remains that he made an enormous contribution to the life of Northern Ireland.

"He has a fantastic legacy. It saddens me that the programme appears to have portrayed it in that way.

"However, it does not take away from the very significant role that he played.

"I honestly believe that, if we are to have interviews about the past, it is far better to have them when the events are fresher in people's memories."

Mr Robinson added: "I think that, when we make mistakes – there is not one of us in this chamber who has not done so – we should all be prepared to indicate that we have made those mistakes."

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