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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 15:11 GMT
Political Landscape
Robin Sheeran
Robin Sheeran
The Politics Show Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway
Was the Causeway created by men with tools?

They come in their busloads to enjoy the splendours of the Northern Ireland countryside. Sometimes it can be glimpsed through rainsoaked windows. They spend lots of money. So, when the news came that one of the natural treasures was in danger, more than one alarm bell rang out.

Rows over visitors' centres may come and go, but the Giant's Causeway stands proud, an everlasting symbol of the beauties of the northern shores.

At least that is what we thought until the news came that the Jewel in the Crown of our tourist industry is set to disappear beneath the waves.

The tragic vanishing of the world's favourite rocky outcrop may be thousands of years away, but the latest bulletin from the National Trust brought to mind visions of certain politicians saluting the flag as the rocks beneath their feet sink into the watery sunset.

On Tuesday 29 February, the Environment Minister, Arlene Foster, told a rapt Assembly that she was rejecting the application for a privately-funded visitors' centre at the Causeway.

Adverse impact

Giant's Causeway
Or was the Causeway created by the giant 'Finn MacCool'?

In the minister's own words the proposal would have an "adverse impact on the World Heritage Site".

This finally put the kibosh on developer Seymour Sweeney's plans for the site, and brought to nothing all of Ian Paisley Jnr's extensive lobbying for the project.

His political opponents have objected to his working so hard for a wealthy DUP supporter.

Mr Paisley Jnr insists he would do the same for any constituent, and cites the case of a local priest who refers parishioners' problems to the local MLA.

This week on Politics Show from Northern Ireland, our Political Editor, Mark Devenport, examines the fallout from the Causeway affair. He travels to North Antrim, heartland of the Paisley dynasty.

Inheriting the mantle?

Ian Paisley Jnr
I notice my father has extremely good genes, and I'm not talking about Levis
Ian Paisley Jnr

It has long been assumed that Ian Paisley Jnr would inherit his father's Westminster seat, so will the media hoo-ha on the Causeway issue have an adverse impact on his long-term political ambitions?

One political website recently had him throwing in the towel and resigning. It was just a rumour, and one that Ian Paisley Jnr is quick to rubbish.

"I intend to stay around for a very long time," he tells Mark.

"I notice my father has extremely good genes, and I'm not talking about Levis, and I hope that they are inherited."

The Politics Show for the Northern Ireland, with Jon Sopel and Jim Fitzpatrick on Sunday 03 February 2008 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.

You get a second chance to see the programme again that night, at 22:55 BST on BBC One.

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