Paisley Junior left in difficult position by father’s claims, says Robinson

Ian Paisley Junior is congratulated by his dad after securing the DUP nomination in the North Antrim Constituency in 2010.
Ian Paisley Junior is congratulated by his dad after securing the DUP nomination in the North Antrim Constituency in 2010.

Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson has insisted Ian Paisley Jnr’s standing within the party will not be affected by his father’s explosive claims about an alleged plot to oust him from front-line politics.

DUP co-founder Dr Ian Paisley, 87, levelled a series of hard-hitting allegations against Mr Robinson and other senior leadership figures in the party in a documentary that examined his resignation as leader and Stormont first minister in 2008.

As well as claiming Mr Robinson - his successor as first minister and party leader - and current deputy leader Nigel Dodds issued him with deadline ultimatums to leave, the former North Antrim MP, now Lord Bannside, was highly critical of an internal DUP survey that had questioned his own ability to do the job and characterised his politician son, then a junior minister in the Stormont administration, as a liability.

The broadcast of the BBC programme has led to speculation about what the future now holds for Ian Paisley Jnr, who succeeded his father as DUP MP for North Antrim in 2010.

Mr Robinson, in his first public appearance since the documentary aired on Monday night, said Ian Paisley Jnr had been left in a “difficult position”.

“I give him advice as a father, rather than a party leader or as first minister, and I don’t think he should say or do anything that makes his relationship with his family more difficult,” he said.

“That is an important element for him to keep, particularly at this stage of his parents’ lives.”

Mr Robinson made clear the documentary would not affect Mr Paisley Jnr’s standing in the party.

“Nor will it affect any relationship he has with me,” he added.

“And I hope he clearly gets that message.”

Ian Paisley Jnr has so far not commented publicly on the documentary.

In regard to the allegations made in the programme, Mr Robinson maintained the official line first issued by the party on Sunday that he would not comment on the detail, other than to challenge their factual basis. Mr Dodds has also denied the claims made against him.

Mr Robinson said the DUP would not be “sidetracked” by the documentary.

“I have already made a statement, the party has made a statement, I have indicated I don’t intend to take part in these kind of recriminations,” he said.

The controversial survey that angered Dr Paisley in his final months in office had questioned the friendly relationship the first minister had struck up with Sinn Fein deputy first minister and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness - a rapport that had seen the leaders dubbed the “chuckle brothers”.