Belfast Telegraph

How fear of Paisley radio coup put Government in a spin

By Lindy McDowell

According to newly released State papers, the Westminster government of 30 years ago feared that Ian Paisley (this was long before his Chuckle Bros transformation) was preparing to stage a dramatic take-over.

Not of the House of Commons itself , the Dail or the republic of Ballymena. They were worried that he might be contemplating seizing Downtown Radio.

I don't think they actually envisaged DJ the Rev Doc calling the tunes in the literal sense. Although his sidekick Peter Robinson, back then still in his tinted aviator glasses, did have a certain Big T-esque look about him.

"Tonight we will be keeping it country. We will ensure we will continue to keep it country and we will never, ever surrender to those who wish to stop us keeping it country ... " Interesting, too, that the authorities back then considered that in order to gain some control over Paisley they should "build him up" as the main voice of unionism. Precisely what New Labour did eventually do. For Gerry Adams there are more troubling questions in the same state papers about the hunger strikes.

But my favourite New Year revelation concerns that other Dear Leader in Pyongyang.

In an interview Sean Garland, former leader of the Stickies and wanted for questioning by the Americans over his alleged role in a massive scam to damage the US economy by printing billions of counterfeit dollars, denies that his meetings with the late Kim Jong Il and his da, Kim Il Sung were about anything of the sort. He was there to give advice on, among other things, what today would be called image management.

Garland says he advised Kim (Il Sung) to stop taking out full page ads in the Irish Times explaining the North Korean position, since nobody was reading them. So according to this account anyway, his prime economic victim was not the US federal reserve or even Western capitalism. It was the ad sales department of the Irish Times.

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