O’Loan casts doubts on Paisley recollections

Councillor Declan O'Loan
Councillor Declan O'Loan

A Ballymena councillor who, as an MLA, witnessed the final days of Ian Paisley’s political career has cast doubt on the former DUP leader’s recollection of the period.

SDLP veteran, Declan O’Loan said: “It was sad to see an old man now so bitter about his former colleagues who had supported him loyally over the years.

“It was an unnecessary interview for Ian Paisley to give and he I do not think that he comes out of it well.

“I was a member of the Assembly at the time of his retirement as First Minister and his version of events does not accord with what I saw. The time did come when it was clear that he was no longer on top of the job and could not cope with the detail.

“That was no disgrace for a man of his age. I have no doubt that the message was given to him that it was time to move on. At the time he bore that with good grace in a public sense. I saw him coming back into the chamber and sitting on the front bench to show his support for the new leader, often at times when he didn’t need to bother. He would have done better to have maintained that dignity to the end.”

“I think we can now ask ourselves how much of Ian Paisley’s career was about his own ego, rather than about any cause that he espoused whether religious or political. He has devalued himself and those who supported him so strongly over the years should now ask themselves what were they supporting.”