Sad, disappointing, mind still sharp - web users’ mixed reaction to Paisley on TV

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley

Speculation about the effect Ian Paisley’s television interview will have on the future of the DUP, and indeed the former First Minister’s legacy, was rife among News Letter web users in the run-up to the second part of the documentary and after it aired on Monday.

Lord Bannside alleges he was pushed from both the party he founded and the leadership of Martyrs Memorial church, part of the Free Presbyterian church which he also founded, after 65 years at the helm.

On the future of the DUP after the programme, one user said: “It’s difficult to know the extent of damage these revelations have created for the DUP. I believe they are at a cross roads, this region is changing.”

The user went on to say they believed the party must compromise more, otherwise a “failure to accommodate a changing demographic will be their downfall”.

Looking at his political legacy, a different user said it would be “another fractured Unionist electorate which will play nicely into the hands of those whom he has chuckled with...”.

Comparing Mr Paisley to his successor Peter Robinson, one user accused the former minister of “political crudeness, cowardice and bad tempered PR meltdowns”, while praising the current leader for “political craft, guts and coolness”.

In terms of Rev Paisley’s decision to air his grievances, some viewers expressed their “disappointment” at the contents of his claims.

One person said: “At the time, re DUP, he made clear it was his choice, his timing etc. And re the church, at the time from the pulpit, he also said that he would remain a member and his family would continue coming.

“It is sad when someone you hold in high regard is just doing so much damage to himself, his family and seemingly trying to create division in the church and party which he started.”

Another user accused the former politician of a lack of dignity, saying his transition to retirement was to be expected.

“I must admit to being a bit disappointed by Mr Paisley’s lack of dignity as highlighted above .At the end of the day, the man was over 82 years old and was leader of both party and church for over 60 years - did he never expect to pass the ‘baton’ onto younger men?”

There was some support for the former DUP leader though, with one person strongly criticising those who claim Mr Paisley’s recollection of events has changed with time and age.

“Just because someone is 87 years of age does not mean that they have lost their mind,” said the web visitor. “I listened to Paisley on the first interview and while he looks a bit older, his arguments (which I don’t agree with) made perfect sense and his mind is obviously still sharp.

“It’s amazing what Peter, Nigel and co in the DUP will do to cling to power. Watch out DUP, most older people vote at election time and most have long memories!”

A female user claiming to be a Presbyterian said she was not pleased at the revelations being made public.

She said: “I am a Presbyterian and I do not like people slagging my faith off!! Ian had his own ideas about religion which I and many others disagreed with totally! The Christian churches are going down the pan as it is! We do not really want dirty washing aired in public!!”