The Rev Ian Paisley’s wrath for the unionist successor Peter Robinson who ‘broke his heart’

The veteran DUP politician has never recovered from Peter Robinson’s ‘plot’ to replace him

The Rev Ian Paisley has detonated a political bombshell by accusing Peter Robinson, his long-time deputy and successor as Northern Ireland’s First Minister, of involvement in a plot of depose him.

Mr Paisley and his wife Eileen both levelled extraordinarily caustic criticisms against the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Free Presbyterian Church, both of which he founded and led for half a century.

In a BBC documentary to be broadcast tonight, Mrs Paisley declared: “They assassinated him by their words and by their deeds – they treated him shamefully.”

Her husband related that when Tony Blair confided in him in Downing Street that he was about to become a Catholic, he bluntly told the Prime Minister: “You’re a fool.”

Although DUP figures have suggested Mr Paisley’s memory may be at fault, his trenchant criticisms are causing sizeable waves in a party noted for its long tradition of keeping disputes under wraps. Because he will be aged 90 in two years’ time, and since he has been in hospital several times with serious conditions, it had been assumed that his capacity to spring surprises was over.

But his allegations, apparently aimed at Mr Robinson, that “there was a beast here who was prepared to go forward to the destruction of the party”, are extreme. The shock is almost approaching that generated in 2007 when he switched from a lifetime of opposing Sinn Fein to entering government with republicans in an administration headed by himself and Sinn Fein’s  Martin McGuinness.

He lasted just over a year as First Minister before stepping down from both that post and as moderator for life of the Free Presbyterian church.

Mrs Paisley said of his removal: “I know he was heartbroken and I believe it was the heartbreak that took the toll on his health.”

She said that for four days he was “just hovering between life and death,” with the family discussing funeral arrangements.

The Rev Ian Paisley has detonated a political bombshell by accusing Peter Robinson, pictured, his long-time deputy and successor as Northern Ireland’s First Minister, of involvement in a plot of depose him The Rev Ian Paisley has detonated a political bombshell by accusing Peter Robinson, pictured, his long-time deputy and successor as Northern Ireland’s First Minister, of involvement in a plot of depose him Since he stepped down as head of the church he founded, no member of his family has entered his Martyrs Memorial church, Mr Paisley revealed. “I think they’re better not going because they would not be happy. You do not go to a church to sit on nails,” he said.

At the time of his departure in 2008, Mr Paisley gave no public sign that he had been forced out against his will, and made no criticisms of either his party or his church. He now says this is because he did not wish to harm them. But the strength and sustained ferocity of his criticisms have blown away the image of both as happily united families.

A DUP statement said the party was sad to see Mr Paisley “harm his own legacy.” It said that in his later years as party leader “many of his colleagues shielded his frailty from public view to avoid embarrassment” at a time when his ability to perform his duties was seriously diminished and causing widespread concern. It added that those people “are hurt by untrue and bitter comments.”

Mr Paisley also related a conversation with Mr Blair in 2007 after a private meeting.

“As we were walking down the stairs he stopped, he looked back at me and he said, ‘Ian, there is something I need to tell you. When the hands of that clock’ – and he pointed to a big clock that was on the wall, ‘When the hands of that clock, when they come to eight o’clock I will be a Roman Catholic’. And he said ‘I didn’t want you to leave without telling you, I’d rather tell you myself.’ And I said ‘You are a fool’ and I walked on.”

He said he had often spoken of religion with Mr Blair, saying the Prime Minister’s Donegal grandmother was “a very strong supporter of mine”.

Last night a DUP statement said the party was sad to see Mr Paisley “harm his own legacy.” It said that in his later years as party leader “many of his colleagues shielded his frailty from public view to avoid embarrassment”a at a time when his ability to perform his duties was seriously diminished and causing widespread concern. It added that those people “are hurt by untrue and bitter comments.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders