And so it’s farewell, in one of his many capacities at least, to our Stakhanovite junior minister, Ian Paisley Jr. This is a sad day indeed for those of us who had enjoyed watching Junior stumble from one crisis to the next. If you zip over to the Telegraph, the estimable David Gordon goes into this in much more detail.
Wee Ian tells us that he has done nothing improper, and I’m quite prepared to take his word for that. He has indeed been a tireless advocate for his North Antrim constituency. Is it his fault that the improvements in North Antrim for which he has lobbied have had a tendency to benefit the same developer? Surely not. Can we blame Baby Doc for said developer being a member of the DUP, and furthermore someone the Paisleys have had quite a few dealings with? Not at all. It is surely just a series of bizarre coincidences that have created the unfortunate impression that Wee Ian was Seymour Sweeney’s personal shopper.
And we certainly can’t blame Junior for his lack of allies in the DUP willing to speak up for him. This, I fear, is the shape of things to come as heir apparent Peter Robinson gears up to take over the party. Robbo has an enviable reputation as a harsh disciplinarian, much of it gained during the thirty years he spent turning Castlereagh council into a sort of loyalist North Korea. (Complete with endearing traits like filling the council with family members and naming civic buildings after himself.) Some DUP members may have hoped for a quieter life when Papa Doc finally stands down. I fear they will discover too late that they have simply exchanged Tiberius for Caligula.