Northern Ireland news

Former DUP leader Ian Paisley suggested sharing power with John Hume in late 1980s

Former DUP leader Ian Paisley and former SDLP leader John Hume had a meal at Mr Paisley's home. Picture by Pacemaker
John Monaghan

FORMER DUP leader Ian Paisley suggested a power-sharing deal with the SDLP in the late 1980s, his widow Eileen has revealed.

Baroness Paisley said her husband, who died in 2014, brought John Hume to their home for a meal and urged him to break off talks with Sinn Féin.

She was speaking in an interview with veteran journalist Eamonn Mallie due to be broadcast tomorrow night on UTV.

"Ian said to him 'John you and I could do very well in this province. You represent the Catholic community and I would represent the Protestant community and we could get together' because they had the same ideas."

Read More: Eileen Paisley hurt by DUP MP son's behaviour but punishment was 'very severe'

She said the DUP leader also warned his SDLP counterpart, who was holding secret talks with Gerry Adams to try to bring about an IRA ceasefire, that he would be "wiped out" politically by Sinn Féin.

"John did meet them and they did wipe the SDLP out in a large measure at that time."

Under Mr Paisley's leadership the DUP opposed the 1998 Good Friday Agreement before agreeing to share power with Sinn Féin in 2007.

Meanwhile, Baroness Paisley said she would accept her children or grandchildren being gay, despite her late husband's strident opposition to homosexuality.

"If that happened they are still my children and I couldn't stop loving them... I couldn't turn them away because it wouldn't be right," she said.

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