The late Ian Paisley would not have allowed DUP-Sinn Fein relations to drift to the extent that Stormont’s future is now under threat, his widow has said.
In an interview with the News Letter in the library which now houses Lord Bannside’s vast personal book collection, Baroness Paisley recalled how different things had been when her husband and Martin McGuinness first embraced power-sharing in 2007.
In comments which will not be welcomed by the current leadership of the party Dr Paisley founded and led for almost four decades, Baroness Paisley made clear her sadness at recent events.
When asked how her late husband would have approached the current situation, she said: “I don’t think he would have let it get to the state it was allowed to run to.
“I think that the two of them – him and the Deputy First Minister – would have worked more closely together on it and sorted things out because they did that during the time that Ian was First Minister and got on well.”
She said that “the atmosphere changed” during the period around the restoration of devolution in 2007 and that the past “depression” of the Troubles had been replaced by “optimism”.
“I suppose there still is some of that, but then ... there’s just that uneasiness at the moment. You don’t know what way things are going to go.”
When asked whether the murder of Kevin McGuigan, the PSNI’s view that the Provisional IRA still exists in some form and the fear that decommissioning was not complete leave her feeling in any way betrayed by Sinn Fein, Baroness Paisley said: “No. There are people associated with Sinn Fein who became dissidents and I think they are the ones that are really doing the damage.
“People from Sinn Fein had their differences with Martin McGuinness as well – they didn’t like what he did, and people didn’t like what Ian did ... but it was a reconciling time and that is what both of them longed for.
“They did work together to that end and it was obvious to people but then sometimes people from both sides think ‘their side’s winning’ so they have to stir it up again. But I do not think that Martin McGuinness would be part of that or be associated with anything to do with it.
“I really don’t, because he has always spoken of the change and the difference in his life which the friendship brought about.
“We never, ever – nobody ever thought – that they could work together so well, and they did and then some people don’t like that.”