Belfast Telegraph

DUP must avoid fuss or further rancour

By Liam Clarke

The DUP is wise not to make a fuss about Ian Paisley's critical comments in the course of an article about his dad.

Father and son were close, as anyone who saw them together could tell, particularly in Dr Paisley's later years.

"For the first 18 years of my marriage after leaving home, without fail Dad would call me every night," the younger Ian Paisley wrote.

It would be foolish as well as wrong to hit out at the MP in his grief. Mr Paisley is a formidable force within the party.

With the Paisley name, he could most almost certainly hold his North Antrim seat as an independent if he wished. That would weaken the party after the loss of East Belfast in the last election. So Mr Paisley's sensitivities must be respected.

At the same time, he is not in a position to mount any sort of putsch against the leadership.

He does not have the power base for that. Indeed, there is no basis for a Paisley loyalist heave.

No senior figure in the party publicly shared Dr Paisley's view he should have stayed in charge. In fact, 83% of MLAs said in a survey that he should go.

Not even Dr Paisley made any complaint at the time. If other party members did not speak out, or rally to Dr Paisley after he eventually complained, there is little credibility doing so now.

It is a poignant end that his party and church were not present to pay tribute to him at his funeral. The challenge for the DUP now is to regroup and avoid further rancour which could destroy them.

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