Baroness Paisley recalls lifelong friend Desmond Boal’s last visit

Baroness Eileen Paisley
Baroness Eileen Paisley

When it was put to Dr Paisley that he was “looking after his legacy” when he decided to join Martin McGuinness in government and become First Minister, Dr Paisley said: “Oh no, not at all. My work was as a Christian minister and that has always come first.”

He added: “I had to sell myself to a lot of criticism from people who didn’t really know what was happening. I mean, I was blamed for being a Lundy and all sorts of things.

“But when I look back, he that laughs last laughs the longest.”

Baroness Paisley acknowledged that to some people “it just seemed to them like he was going back on everything he had said”.

But she added: “The situation was different. The situation had changed. Sinn Fein had given up their arms and their Semtex...otherwise it wouldn’t have happened.”

The first of Dr Paisley’s long friendships which he lost after going into government was with the veteran QC and unionist political figure Desmond Boal.

Baroness Paisley said that Mr Boal, who had been a founding member of the DUP after years as a thorn in the side of modernising Ulster Unionist leaders, had come to their house to return books which Dr Paisley had given him and said “this isn’t a friendly visit”.

“He said ‘I just can’t believe he’s done what he’s done and I just don’t want anything more to do with you’.

“I said: ‘Desmond, I’m very sorry it has to come to that but... what could he do? Would you have him responsible for another 30 or 40 years of warfare and devastation and killing and murdering, or do what he did?’”

She said “he just walked away”, adding it was “a very big blow” to her husband.