Saturday, February 11, 2006


Paisley's insult to the President had a political motive

A decent woman - attacked by a ghastly man There's an interesting article in the Irish Examiner by Pat Brosnan in which he claims that the recent derogatory comments by Ian Paisley towards the Irish President, which I touched on here, were actually a calculated political move on the part of the DUP leader.

Paisley had said he did not "like the President of the Irish Republic" and he stated that "she pretends to love this province but she hates it". A truly bizarre comment to make seeing as the President was born in the province!

Both the Minister for Foreign Affairs and British Secretary of State Peter Hain took issue with Paisley's insults but according to Pat Brosnan, that is exactly what Paisley was after in the first place.

Mr Brosnan writes:

Describing the President in such derogatory terms was something Paisley calculated would lead to a row, and it did. He does this kind of thing exceptionally well because he has decades of practice at it, but it’s also something the rest of the world has come to expect from him.

A buffoon he may well be considered outside his own circle of bigotry, but buffoonery has served his own political ambition and agenda very well.

He has now become the leader of the majority unionist party while always remaining a negative influence on progress towards a lasting and meaningful peace in Northern Ireland.

HE doesn’t want to share power; neither does the 37% polled at the party’s conference and you can be quite sure that the 24% who played dumb would, at the end of the day, follow Paisley’s lead like sheep.

Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said he had a "robust" exchange with the DUP leader over the remarks about the President. Northern Secretary Peter Hain also was unimpressed, and said so. But Paisley succeeded in what he intended with the insult, which was to inject a sour note on the first day of the latest round of talks.

While he tries to undermine the return of democratic politics to the North with the restoration of the political institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement, the redundant members of the suspended Assembly are still drawing their salaries and office expenses of about €124,609 each.

Or, as Peter Hain pointed out, it has cost Britain €113.34 million since the Assembly was established to keep it idle. That’s a joke which British ministers and the British taxpayer won’t tolerate much longer.

I must say I agree with Mr Brosnan. Paisley is not damaged in any way by the negative comments he made, on the contrary these kind of insults and snide remarks have served him very well over the years.

I also find the figure of €113.34 million a year to keep the Assembly going a truly staggering sum. Surely the British people will not continue to allow themselves be hit in the pocket just because Ian Paisley doesn't want progress for Ireland's north?

The two governments have some serious thinking to do from now on. It is clear to absolutely everybody that the DUP simply do not want progress for the North. They are intent on seeing the Good Friday Agreement, which the Irish people north and south voted for, die a slow and painful death. The two governments cannot let the bully-boy Paisley and his party stall the restoration of the institutions any longer.

Paisley has been shown to be quite willing to open his big mouth to berate others - and yet quite unwilling to actually do his democratic duty and get Stormont up and running again.

2006 requires the two governments to set out a new playing field where the restoration of devolution is shown to be an inevitability rather than a possibility. If Paisley and co. wish to leave the playing field and take their ball and go home...then the two governments need to consider alternative ways of making sure the game is played - even without the spoilsports.


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