DUP stay silent on Paisley TV programmes

Dr Paisley
Dr Paisley

DUP members in North Antrim are staying tight-lipped following the sensational documentary, Paisley: Genesis to Revelation, on BBC.

None of the party representatives we spoke to was prepared to go on record following the revelations by Dr Ian Paisley, not because of any directive from senior officers but because of the sensitivities surrounding the matter.

With elections to the new super councils in May, the last thing the party want is to divide the electorate which could result in casualties at the ballot box.

There is no doubt that opinion is divided both at party and church level but, unsurprisingly, the support for the former leader is still strong.

And we can reveal that one long-standing and respected member of the party in North Antrim said he was within a whisker of walking away from politics as a result of the allegations and accusations made in the programmes.

If carried out it would have dealt a serious blow to the party faithful.

“I can tell you that I wasn’t one bit happy after watching Eamonn Mallie’s interviews. Dr Paisley has nothing to be ashamed of and as far as I’m concerned he has no stain on his character.

“No one is saying he’s perfect but from what I can gather he still has tremendous support throughout North Antrim and beyond. Ian Paisley was and is a people person. He would never enter a room without doing his best to shake hands with everyone”

Another member who did not wish to be named publicly said two one-hour programmes would not damage the reputation or the legacy of Dr Paisley.

“He’s still highly regarded and that’s not taking sides. People I have spoken to are gutted by the accusations against him but Ballymoney is still behind him,” the member said.

Of course, many in the DUP admit that the decision to go into Government with Sinn Fein caused deep division and led several to desert to the TUV.

Even within the church, there were those who abhorred the sight of Dr Paisley and Martin McGuinness laughing and joking together and that proved a bitter pill to swallow.

Outside of party members and those within the Free Presbyterian Church, some nationalists we spoke to said their opinion of Mrs Eileen Paisley had risen with her forthright comments on the much-watched documentaries.

No doubt the party will be anxious to see the fall-out from the programmes disappear in the coming weeks as they prepare for the super council elections.

As one member said: “We will simply get on with the business of engaging with the electorate and emphasising that the party will work every bit as hard as we have always done. That definitely won’t change despite the controversy.”