Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley jnr's 'pygmies' jibe at his late father's detractors

By Liam Clarke

Ian Paisley jnr will not be disciplined by the DUP after he described his late father's critics as "pygmies in his shadow".

He also accused some in the DUP and Free Presbyterian Church of using his father as a ladder to power and influence.

In a tribute to Lord Bannside – who was buried on Monday – Mr Paisley penned a moving and intimate account of his close relationship with his father for the Ballymena Guardian.

"None of his detractors can take anything away from him. His critics appear as pygmies in his shadow," Mr Paisley, who succeeded his father as MP for North Antrim, wrote.

"Dad, indeed all of us, were hurt by the way some in the church and in political life treated him – indeed, even took him for granted. I am often reminded of Lord Carson's speech in the House of Lords about one of his erstwhile friends when he recounted (how) he had been 'used as a ladder only to be kicked away at an opportune moment'."

Mr Paisley added: "I know that many who wouldn't even be in politics or the church today stand accused of that."

Lord Carson was the founder of Ulster unionism and one of Mr Paisley's role models.

One senior DUP source said the party will let the matter lie.

"The guy's father has just died. Everyone accepts what Ian said in that context. It was pretty much how his father would have handled things and it will be left at that," he said.

The comments reflect remarks by Baroness Paisley and Lord Bannside in a BBC documentary earlier this year. They claimed he had been ousted as DUP leader by senior figures, including Peter Robinson who succeeded him as leader and deputy leader Nigel Dodds. Both men denied this.

At the time of the broadcast Mr Paisley jnr remained silent, and his barbed comments were seen as no more than would be expected.

The bulk of the article revealed the close bonds within the Paisley family and Dr Paisley's decline over a period of years. Mr Paisley recalled how he stayed beside his father throughout the night alongside his sister Rhonda, who had not left her father's side for the best part of a year as his carer.

Next morning Mr Paisley was in his Ballymena office when he was told to come home quickly. He spoke briefly to his father on the phone and rushed home.

"At around 11.40am Dad passed away to be with his saviour. I still can't believe it," he wrote.

"Today I say farewell to a most wonderful, inspirational man who I am proud to say was my father."

Background

Ian Paisley was buried in a private family funeral at Ballygowan on Monday. This decision not to invite political and church associates followed bitter recriminations after a BBC broadcast earlier this year. In it Lord Bannside hit out at senior figures in both the party and church he founded, the DUP and the Free Presbyterians, for alleged ingratitude.

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