Ian Paisley Jr has appeared to endorse a key part of his father’s extraordinary final television interview.
Last week, the North Antrim MP largely sidestepped the row over Lord Bannside’s fierce attack on Peter Robinson, his successor as DUP leader.
In a short article about the interview, Mr Paisley Jr avoided siding with either his father or his party leader, writing in The Sun that he serves “both my party and the people of North Antrim with a great deal of pride and affection” – and that he would not be commenting any further on the issue.
However, in a written piece for The House magazine, Westminster’s in-house journal, the DUP man appeared to endorse his father’s comments about Bloody Sunday.
In Lord Bannside’s interview with Eamonn Mallie broadcast two weeks ago, the DUP founder shocked many when he said that the civil rights protest which led to the Bloody Sunday deaths was a legal protest and that it had been “dangerous” for the Government to cover up what had happened.
The former First Minister said: “The [Saville] inquiry afterwards proved that some people had neither weapons, nor were they using weapons. They were just making a protest within the law.”
He added that he was happy to hear David Cameron apologise in 2010 for the deaths: “I was glad to hear him for the first time as a British leader telling the truth about it, saying what really did happen.”
In an emailed discussion for the magazine with Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh about human rights in Sri Lanka, Mr Paisley Jr said that it would be wrong for the UK to “lecture” the island nation, given the UK’s record in that area.
One example which he cited was Bloody Sunday. The MP said: “How many years did it take the UK to address the situation in Londonderry and the fallout of the Bloody Sunday debacle? Forty years!
“Many would argue that this places the UK in a weak place to lecture others.”
Lord Bannside’s astonishing comments in his interview with Eamonn Mallie were at variance with the DUP founder’s position on Bloody Sunday throughout his career.
When called to testify to the Saville Inquiry in 2002, he said that it was a “witchhunt of Protestants” and “a monumental waste of time and money”. Just prior to that, Mr Paisley Jr had said that “the credibility of the tribunal is now in tatters”.