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Kyle Paisley: My father was betrayed by the DUP

Exclusive by Adrian Rutherford

A bitter feud between the Paisley family and the DUP has been reopened after new claims that Ian Paisley was betrayed by his one-time political friends.

Kyle Paisley hit out at "brothers" who turned "adversaries" during his late father's final days as First Minister and party leader.

He rejected suggestions that Mr Paisley, who passed away last year, was no longer capable of holding office, insisting he still had much to offer Northern Ireland.

His comments mark the latest stage in a long-running dispute between the Paisleys and the DUP.

In January 2014, eight months before his death, Mr Paisley claimed he had been forced to quit as party leader and First Minister.

During an interview with Eamonn Mallie, to be broadcast this weekend, his son Kyle said it was difficult to watch one-time friends turn against his father.

Asked if his family felt betrayed by the DUP, he replies: "I think there's only one answer, and that is yes."

During the wide-ranging interview, Mr Paisley also:

  • Criticises the "sectarianism" at the heart of the Free Presbyterian Church at the time of Ian Paisley's departure as moderator;
  • Reveals his opposition to the recriminalisation of homosexuality, despite his father's Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign;
  • Suggests Peter Robinson would have been forced to resign if controversial comments about Muslims had been made on the mainland;
  • Describes himself as Irish, and refers to Northern Ireland as the North of Ireland on one occasion;
  • Insists his family was right to take part in an explosive TV interview which blew the lid on the Paisleys' simmering feud with the DUP;
  • Admits his twin brother -DUP MP Ian Paisley - has told him to be careful about his constant attacks on the party.

Kyle Paisley (48) is a minister of Oulton Broad Free Presbyterian Church in Lowestoft, England. He is not a member of a political party, and does not have the same public profile as his twin brother.

However, he has been highly critical of the DUP in recent times, using the internet to regularly attack senior party figures.

Ian jnr and his father with Kyle before the latter was ordained in 1991
Ian jnr and his father with Kyle before the latter was ordained in 1991
Baroness Paisley and her son Kyle at a memorial service in the Ulster Hall for former First Minister Ian Paisley
Kyle with his fiancee Janice McDowell in 1991
larking around with his father, mother Eileen, brother Ian jnr and sister Rhonda
A family portrait including his other sisters Sharon and Cherith in 2012
Another portrait from a few years earlier
Ian Paisley with his twin sons Kyle and Ian jnr
Kyle before he set off for England in 1991

Speaking to Mr Mallie, Kyle Paisley criticises his father's departure from front line politics.

In January 2014, in his final interview, Mr Paisley said he was told to quit.

He blamed Peter Robinson, who succeeded him as leader and First Minister, and his deputy Nigel Dodds. Both denied his account of events.

While he doesn't refer to specific individuals, Kyle Paisley says the behaviour of one-time friends in the DUP was difficult to take.

He said Northern Ireland would have been in a stronger place if his father had continued as First Minister.

"The Bible says a friend loves at all times, a brother is born for adversity. You don't expect those who've been your brother, so to speak, to be the creators of your adversity," he tells the programme.

"It was hurtful because he had put his heart and soul into it, and he still had a lot to give.

"I wasn't in Northern Ireland that much but even on the occasions I did come over, you could sense there was a kind of a buzz about the place.

"They didn't seem to value that. I think if he could have had the opportunity to finish another couple of years it would have laid an even stronger foundation for the future."

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In the 2014 interview, Eileen Paisley said her husband was "assassinated with words and deeds" and treated shamefully.

Put to him that it was an extraordinary remark, Kyle Paisley said: "It was, but my mum has the finger on the pulse. She can see things happening."

He rejects suggestions from within the DUP that his father wasn't holding it together.

"The people that say those things, you see some of the things that they've said, you wonder if they're quite with it," he adds.

"I think he was in perfect control of his mind. I think he knew what he was saying and knew what he was doing."

Despite the storm the interview caused, Mr Paisley said it was "absolutely necessary" to set the record straight on his father's departure.

Ian Paisley's exit from the political spotlight came shortly after his resignation as moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church.

It followed anger among some members at his decision to lead the DUP into power with Sinn Fein.

Kyle Paisley said stepping down caused deep hurt, and his father took it harder than anything else which happened in his long career.

"I was definitely hurt for his sake, and it's left an abiding memory which is not a very pleasant one," he continues.

"I don't hate the people that did it, but what they did in my estimation was they short-changed themselves."

He claims the move to oust his father had been prompted by "sectarianism".

"If you don't want to see your moderator, your leader, who has been faithful to his calling as a Christian minister, if you don't want to see him share power with somebody who is the opposite to him religiously and politically, what else, what other word can you use to describe it?" he adds.

"There seems to me ... there really is an unwarranted bias there."

Ian Paisley famously led the Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign in the late 1970s in protest at the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland.

However, Kyle Paisley says he would be against recriminalising homosexuality.

"I think once the laws were liberalised in Britain and Northern Ireland towards homosexuality, I think trying to turn the clock back is just not being realistic, it's not being reasonable," he says. "It's not as if it's the only sin in the book either."

Asked if his father would be dismayed by his liberal view, he replies: "I don't think so. If I had been in the ministry at that time myself I would have supported that campaign.

"All I'm against is the recriminalisation of the thing because I think it's just ridiculously unworkable.

"How far back are you going to turn the clock on other things as well? You've got to show, I think as well, a bit of common sense."

Last year Kyle Paisley branded Mr Robinson "condescending" and an "ignoramus" over comments he made about the Muslim faith.

Mr Robinson had defended Pastor James McConnell, who described Islam as "satanic" and "heathen". He also said he would not trust Muslims involved in violence or devotees of Sharia law, but would trust them "to go to the shops" for him.

Mr Paisley suggests that Mr Robinson was fortunate to remain as First Minister.

"To come off with remarks like that on the British mainland, if you are a leading political figure on the British mainland, it might have been the end of your political career," he says.

Mr Paisley has previously accused DUP MP Gregory Campbell of "shaming unionism" after he mocked the Irish language, branding him "a liability" on Twitter.

However, Mr Paisley rejected suggestions that he is running a campaign against the DUP.

Asked if his twin brother - the party's North Antrim MP - had told him to stop, he replies: "No, he hasn't said that, he's said just take care."

Asked what that means, he adds: "Don't make yourself a big stick just to beat one party, and there's always a danger that that could happen."

Mr Paisley describes himself as "an Irish man in England".

Asked what made him Irish, he replies: "The fact that I was born here, the fact that probably culturally I'd be Irish. There's the influence of the Scots-Irish there."

Asked would he serve as a minister in the Republic of Ireland, he adds: "It would have as much appeal to me as maybe serving a congregation in the North."

Mr Paisley has three daughters, who study at university. He said all profess the Christian faith.

"Any profession is not just to keep mother and father happy," he adds.

He said he would accept one of his daughters marrying a Catholic.

"I can't compel people to love a certain type of individual. If you fall in love with [someone] you fall in love with them," he adds. "There may be a difficulty if they wanted to get a Roman Catholic priest involved in the wedding. I would find that difficult.

"But I wouldn't not marry them, I don't think."

  • 'Eamonn Mallie Meets' will be broadcast on Irish TV (Sky channel 191) at 11pm on Sunday night

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