Eileen Paisley: I was offended by Foster’s crocodile comment

Sinn Fein members (whose sign reads 'Irish language act now' in Irish) pull a stunt at the offices of the DUP's Nelson McCausland on the Ballysillan Road in Belfast, Feburary 2017
Sinn Fein members (whose sign reads 'Irish language act now' in Irish) pull a stunt at the offices of the DUP's Nelson McCausland on the Ballysillan Road in Belfast, Feburary 2017
Share this article

Baroness Paisley has said she was “offended” by Arlene Foster’s use of a crocodile metaphor to describe Sinn Fein’s Irish language demands.

She made the comment in reaction to a question from Eamonn Mallie in her interview with him, set to be broadcast at 10.45pm on UTV on Tuesday (‘Eamonn Mallie Face to Face With Eileen Paisley’)

Mr Mallie has previously written in The Irish Times about his “affection for the Irish language”, and has said that “the lack of respect for it by unionism is synonymous with the concept of parity of esteem in nationalists’ heads”.

He made reference during his interview to Mrs Foster’s remark at a DUP event in February 2017, warning against acceding to Sinn Fein’s demands: “If you feed a crocodile, it will keep coming back for more.”

This was seized on at the time by Sinn Fein, with its members (including IRA bomber-turned-MLA Gerry Kelly) dressing up in crocodile costumes in reference to the remark.

Asked about the comment, Baroness Paisley said: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to make that comparison.”

She was asked if it offended her “as a Christian”.

She responded: “Yes it did. It offended me just as an ordinary human being.”

She also spoke of Rev Paisley’s fiery rhetoric against the Catholic Church during his heyday.

On this point, she responded: “A lot of it was taken from the Bible itself. He never set out to be rude or insult people of any other religion.

“But he felt that he must say these things for their own benefit.

“We’d more Roman Catholic people came to our homes during the Troubles from the other side of Belfast, to get his advice and his help.

“Never one was turned away. We made many friends through those associations.”