Rev Ian Paisley 'too soft' for DUP supporters
DUP leader Ian Paisley came under attack from party supporters in 1997 for his ‘soft line’ over a lack of applications from the Protestant community for European Union funding for community development.
The north's three MEPs, Ian Paisley, the SDLP's John Hume and Ulster Unionist Jim Nicholson had joined forces to demand an extra £320 million from Europe for peace and reconciliation.
When interviewed on the BBC and UTV, both Mr Paisley and Mr Nicholson claimed that the under-representation of applications from the Protestant community was "essentially a matter that had to be addressed by that community becoming better organised in applying for funds".
The two Unionist MEPs had endorsed a report which stated "for historical and cultural reasons, the Protestant community had not the sort of localised structures which would have enabled them to plug in" to the various sub-programmes. There was no question of unfair discrimination.
In a Northern Ireland Office note in October 1997, an official reported a conversation with senior DUP politician Nigel Dodds who informed him that "a number of DUP supporters had telephoned Central Office to complain at the line taken by Dr Paisley – the implication being that he was a touch too soft".