A new book by BBC Northern Ireland broadcaster Mark Carruthers includes a fascinating interview with the former DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley.
A new book has revealed the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland, reminding all sides in the peace process of the need to maintain it in the face of difficulties around the ongoing Hass review on the flying of flags and protests and tensions over the scrapping of the Maze peace centre.
BBC Northern Ireland broadcaster Mark Carruthers last night launched a book on Ulster identity. The book, entitled Alternative Ulsters: Who Do We Think We Are?, includes interviews with, among others, the former DUP Leader Dr Ian Paisley (now Lord Barnside), who makes clear how much progress he feels that Sinn Fein has made.
Asked about his decision to enter into government with Martin McGuinnes in 2007, Paisley, who, in 1985 pledged to ‘smash’ Sinn Fein, told Carruthers, “Aye. Well, Martin did what I wanted him to. I never had any trouble with him.” He continued:
“He may be a Sinn Feiner but he’s a different Sinn Feiner from the old Sinn Fein. I mean, you’ll hear his statements condemning [someone] who was shot. You’d never have had that [before]… we must give them credit for where they are. I mean, they have come a long way.”
Asked about his views on Gerry Adams, however, Paisley was less conciliatory, telling the book:
“Well, I wouldn’t be so sure about Adams. Adams, I don’t think, has the power within the party today. I think the other man is the leader of the party.”
Asked whether he still wanted to smash Sinn Fein, he said: “No”.
The book launch came on the day that Aung San Suu Kyi visited Northern Ireland to establish what could be learnt from the peace process in achieving reconciliation between bitter rivals. Speaking during a visit to Wellington College in Belfast, she explained:
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“The main reason I have come to Northern Ireland is to learn about how you managed to negotiate a peace process in spite of all the difficulties.
“It is very useful, what we have learned here I think will help us a great deal back in Burma.
“I want to see from you how you see your present day problems because I am told the work is not done.”