Ian Paisley was described as a schizophrenic ready to adopt the IRA’s Brits Out mantra if he did not get his way on Northern Ireland politics, Irish state papers claim.
According to a report marked secret and released under the 30-year rule, secretary of state for Northern Ireland James Prior believed that the Democratic Unionists were less prone to splits and division because of the leader’s domination.
Mr Prior was reportedly angered after being targeted by DUP figures in a Londonderry city hotel. His hardline views on Mr Paisley were recorded in Department of Foreign Affairs files following a meeting with minister for foreign affairs Peter Barry at Hillsborough on October 19 1983.
“Mr Prior said that there were people like Paisley who were schizophrenic,” a report of the meeting shows.
“The DUP had attacked him some time ago at the Everglades Hotel in Derry in the same fashion as the Forum delegation were treated.
“They had screamed at him ‘Brits Out’ and had so badly damaged his armoured car that it had to be completely resprayed.
“The DUP were loyalists only so long as they got their own way and would as a last resort get the ‘Brits out’ and go it alone rather than seek accommodation with the minority.”
The remarks were made in a wide-ranging discussion which included everything from support for Margaret Thatcher in the Conservatives, to conditions in the H-Blocks and the possibility of using water cannons instead of plastic bullets in riots, which Mr Prior said would cause more injuries.
Mr Prior also told Mr Barry that both the Irish and British governments were up against right-wing Tories such as Sir John Biggs-Davison and “an MP called Murphy” whom the secretary of state described as a “despicable twerp”.