Ian Paisley Jr has made his first — and what he says will be his last — comment on his father’s extraordinary attack on the DUP leadership.
Mr Paisley Jr, who has been studiously silent about the television interview which rocked his party, used his weekly column in the local edition of The Sun newspaper to refer to Eamonn Mallie’s interview with his parents.
In a response which does not in any way say that he supports his father’s version of how he left the party leadership, or that put forward by his successor Peter Robinson, the North Antrim MP yesterday said that it would be his only comment on the matter.
He wrote: “Many people have been asking me to comment on a recent television documentary about my father. So here goes.
“Simply put, this has involved my family and my party.
“I may be in public life but I know few will fail to understand that these are personal, private matters.
“For the record, I serve both my party and the people of North Antrim with a great deal of pride and affection.
“All of the above are straightforward. I have nothing else to say on this, so my comment from here on in?
“With respect, it’s no comment.”
When approached by the News Letter last week after the BBC programme was broadcast Mr Paisley Jr repeatedly said “no comment” when asked for his views on his father’s allegations.
In the interview, Dr Paisley referred to Peter Robinson as “a beast” who had been involved in a behind the scenes attempt to oust him as leader, and alleged that Nigel Dodds had told him to quit by Friday during a meeting in February 2008. Mr Robinson and Mr Dodds have rejected the allegations.
Mr Robinson last week said that the extraordinary claims by Dr Paisley left Ian Paisley Jr in a “difficult position”.
On Wednesday night, the TUV leader, Jim Allister, poked fun at Mr Paisley Jr over his predicament.
Speaking to party members in North Antrim, Mr Allister said: “We also seem now to be the only unionist party of unity and purpose.
“Recent events show the DUP to be riven by strife. The Paisley/Robinson division divides that party from top to bottom.
“Far from the myth of being one big happy family, it is a party at war, whose founder clearly despises and repudiates its present leadership. If Ian Paisley doesn’t trust the present DUP leadership, why should its hitherto supporters?
“Things are so bad the MP for North Antrim dare not even speak on the subject!”