Rift between Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson laid bare

Baroness Paisley at the New Bannside Library in east Belfast which contains the late Ian Paisley's personal book collection of 55,000 books. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press.

THE depth of the rift within the DUP has been laid bare after the widow of former leader Ian Paisley revealed Peter Robinson has not contacted her since his death.

Baroness Paisley said her treatment by her husband's successor was "pathetic" and "very hurtful".

She said the first minister "sent Ian (junior) a text after Ian died and that was it. There was no other acknowledgement to our family".

"They were colleagues together for almost four decades, but after Ian's death there was no phone call, no card or no letter from Peter Robinson. Nothing," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I found it very hurtful, but if that's the way Peter wants it to be it's no loss to me. I think it pathetic when a person can't rise above things and even make a gesture in such a situation."

She said despite inviting Mr Robinson to her husband's memorial service last year "out of politeness" she had not heard from him.

Baroness Paisley went on to contrast Ian Paisley's approach to the recent rhetoric by the party he led for 37 years, with former health minister Edwin Poots this week saying his colleagues have to "hold our noses" when doing business with Sinn Féin.

"That wasn't the way the DUP did things when Ian led the party into government with Sinn Féin.

"He didn't operate like that, it wasn't in the spirit of what he wanted for the people of Northern Ireland. Ian didn't hold his nose when he was talking to Martin McGuinness. He treated him like a human being."

And she said the deputy first minister - who with her husband had been dubbed `The Chuckle Brothers' by the media for their cheery demeanour when together - has remained in contact with the family.

"He phoned on the first anniversary of Ian's death last month to say he was thinking of me and the entire family. I saw a humanity and a compassion in him that others have not shown."

Baroness Paisley was speaking this week to coincide with the launch of Bannside Library in east Belfast which contains her husband's collection of 55,000 books.

Among the exhibits is Ian Paisley's personal Bible, complete with annotations in red ink, presumably relating to some of his famous firebrand sermons as well as his own private worship.

Among them are tomes on various Popes, `The Final Conclave' and `Return to Poland' the collected speeches of John Paul II.


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