Eamonn Mallie’s two-part interview with Dr Ian Paisley was fascinating and insightful on a number of levels, not least because it gave us a glimpse inside what’s arguably the most powerful force in his life – his marriage.
I’m not a woman who professes to know reams about politics, but I do know a staunchly loyal, devoted, clued-in, sharp and fearless wife when I see one.
Baroness Eileen Paisley reveals herself, in my opinion, to be the Big Man’s most steadfast supporter — possibly even his sole true, trusted confidante.
Her hurt at the way his DUP colleagues allegedly treated him is palpable; she refuses to hold back in her damning criticism of Nigel Dodds, Timothy Johnston, and even Peter Robinson. And rightly so if, as she believes, her husband was shabbily treated.
But there’s something behind the twinkle in Dr Paisley’s eye at the start of the interview when he jokes that when he met Eileen she was ‘a bully’. I’d hazard a guess that this formidable lady would never be above giving her husband a right ticking off when she thinks he needs one.
A little book of that Baroness’s daily Bible devotionals which she gives to some of those who cross her path reveals her belief that both partners in any marriage must be on an equal footing.
She says that “Christian wives ought indeed to give honour to their husbands, but Christian men ought also to honour their wives”.
She adds that “mutual respect” is crucial because such conduct will have a great impact on their children. Whether the former DUP leader has the respect of the members of the party he created, or the audience who tuned in to watch him, is open to question.
As far as I can observe, the significance of that pales in comparison with that he definitely does have – a woman by his side who will never let him down, and will love him regardless of his imperfections, which have been picked over in public throughout the entire course of his career. The fact that she is so principled and passionate makes him all the more blessed.