Lord Bannside’s more mellow recent approach to politics will fit in well in the less combative House of Lords, according to fellow peers.
Bestowed upon him as a parting honour in former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s outgoing list of appointments, the title will see him join old political foes and friends in the Upper House. Old adversary Lord Trimble said he did not envisage any form of conflict in the chamber as “this a is a very polite place”, adding he was “not moved in any direction” by the new addition to the Lords.
Of Rev Paisley’s selection for the Lords, he said “it comes up with rations”, an old Army term for “it’s a matter of course”.
Liberal Democrat Lord Roberts of Llandudno, a Methodist minister since 1957, said: “When he was first becoming known in Northern Ireland I thought he was a very disruptive force, but he has mellowed over the years.
“There are two Ian Paisleys, the one we knew in his heyday and the more gentle man. I know his wife and she is a lovely woman.
“We have some of the main players from Northern Ireland politics and I’m sure he will speak with passion, but I hope he will be an oil on troubled waters. I was preaching once in Llandudno to a coach party from Northern Ireland and they said I reminded them of Ian Paisley — I nearly took them to court,” he added, jokingly. “I am from the more liberal side, he is more fundamental than most of the bishops.”
Ulster Unionist Lord Ken Maginnis said: “I think it is fortunate that Ian Paisley is now 84 years of age and able to adapt easily to life in the House of Lords.
“It’s not as confrontational as the House of Commons. I have no doubt he will be well aware of the work that is done.
“It is to do with oversight, it is to do with ensuring legislations are properly tied up before it becomes law.”