Belfast Telegraph

DUP felt wrath in Ian Paisley's final interview

By Adrian Rutherford

Ian Paisley's final interview saw him launch a scathing attack on the church and party he founded.

In the two-part documentary, Mr Paisley discussed his departure as first minister and DUP leader for the first time, saying he was told to go by senior figures within the party.

It was a wide-ranging interview which rewrote the final chapter of Rev Paisley's obituary and will have a lasting influence on his legacy. The BBC interview, broadcast in January, heard:

  • Claims that Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds had given Mr Paisley deadlines for his departure, with Mr Dodds allegedly telling him to go by the end of the week, leading Eileen Paisley to brand the North Belfast MP "a cheeky sod";
  • A series of personal jibes from Mrs Paisley at Mr Robinson, including a remark branding his family a source of "sleaze" – an apparent reference to the sex scandal which engulfed his wife Iris four years ago;
  • A comment that some saw as a dig at Mr Robinson, when Mr Paisley said he had no feelings to those who showed him the door, adding that he was happy and had a wife who still loved him;
  • Taunts from Mr Paisley at Mr Robinson losing his East Belfast seat at the 2010 General Election – a loss he branded "a terrible, terrible blow" for unionism, and an admission that their once rock-solid relationship was beyond repair;
  • And references to "a beast" within the DUP that was prepared to go forward to the destruction of the party.

The DUP denied the Paisleys' claims and strongly rejected any notion that Mr Paisley was forced out. The Paisley family was also scathing about Mr Paisley's departure as moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church and as preacher at Martyrs' Memorial.

Mr Paisley announced in November 2011 that he was stepping down from ministry.

The documentary heard claims his resignation followed a letter from the church's Kirk Session, signed by all seven elders, telling Mr Paisley to go.

Mrs Paisley branded her husband's treatment as "iniquitous, nasty, ungodly and un-Christian". She added: "I know he was heartbroken, and I believe that it was the heartbreak that made him ill, that took a toll on his health."

Mrs Paisley also described how a campaign of "poison" led to her husband resigning as moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church in 2007. "He was doing a good job, as he had done all his life. There was nothing to stop him continuing with that and continuing his position as first minister," she said.

"But the poison had been laid, and spread, and that was the damage that had been done."

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