Baroness Eileen Paisley, wife of DUP founder and firebrand preacher Ian Paisley, has said the partition of Ireland was perhaps “a wrong division” and suggested that she would be willing to live in a United Ireland.
Northern Ireland politicians must drop their “petty” demands and think of the people they are continuing to fail in the ongoing absence of government, she claimed, referring to the still-collapsed devolved institutions at Stormont.
The widow of the late former first minister made the comments at the Bannside Library in east Belfast for a Sunday Sequence programme broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster last weekend.
Current DUP leader Arlene Foster has previously said she would live elsewhere if there was Irish unity.
When asked if she could imagine living in a united Ireland, Mrs Paisley said: “It would depend, I suppose, on what, on how it was being ruled. I wouldn’t like a dictatorship and I wouldn’t like a person, because of whatever their religion was, to be persecuted because of that.”
She added that once there was “freedom of worship and freedom of choice in life”, she would be comfortable living in a United Ireland.
Addressing the partition of Ireland, she questioned whether it should ever have happened.
“If you go right back to the beginning, the dividing of Ireland, I think the Irish people all over – north, south, east and west – I think they are a great people,” he said.
“And especially when you are away from home and you meet another person, no matter what part of Ireland they come from, by their different accents, you would say that man is from the south…but they are a fellow countryman of yours or woman.
“I just wonder why it had to be divided at that time and I think perhaps that was a wrong division.”
In the interview, she also said it was “abominable” that MLAs continued to take their salary for “not doing their job” and the public should be informed of what was going on in the current “hidden” talks.
“People are crying out for help and they are failing them,” she said. “I would say cut out the petty nonsense.”
Baroness Paisley also spoke of the DUP’s decision to select its first openly gay candidate for the local government elections and how the matter should be put to the party for a “proper decision to be made”. She said she felt the decision was taken in “defiance” to gauge reaction.