Analysis: Robinson uncannily echoes the wounded Paisley

Gareth and Peter Robinson pictured in 2011
Gareth and Peter Robinson pictured in 2011

Whether consciously or unconsciously, there was a line in Peter Robinson’s BBC interview last night which echoed the words of Ian Paisley after he had lost the DUP leadership.

Revelations about Ian Paisley Jr’s relationship with the developer Seymour Sweeney led to his resignation as a junior minister and soon after his weakened father quit as DUP leader and First Minister.

At the time he took a swipe at unnamed individuals (though it was later clear that he was referring to specific DUP members). Dr Paisley said: “I felt that my son was very badly treated. I am not a fool, people who thought that they could get at me, got at him.

“They thought they could damage me by the damage they sought to take out on him, but that did not move me.”

Despite his leadership coming under pressure from elements within the DUP, Mr Robinson has survived much longer than Dr Paisley did once faced significant opposition.

Last night Mr Robinson referred to unnamed individuals who were, he claimed, targeting his son. He did not state whether he was referring to internal critics or to the media who elsewhere in the interview he criticised, but the echo of Dr Paisley was uncanny.

Mr Robinson said: “They complained when he was working in politics; now they complain when he’s outside.

“They’ve done everything possible to try and impact his business and make it difficult for him...I think it’s entirely predictable that there are some sources who close their eyes to the fact that there are dozens of people out there in the same business as his but they want to look at that. It’s simply a case of not so much getting at him; they’re trying to get at me.”