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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008, 20:52 GMT
Paisley resignation 'inevitable'
By Seamus Boyd
BBC News

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley has relinquished three roles in recent months
How does that old saying go? Endings aren't endings unless they're bitter endings?

The author Ed Maloney has followed Ian Paisley's career from the booming voice of the 60s to the twilight zone of imminent retirement. His book, Paisley - From Demagogue to Democrat? charts the rise of the man who spent a lifetime saying "No" only to say "Yes" at the very end.

Maloney says the decision to resign was inevitable and Ian Paisley leaves his party in the style that he himself adopted for others, pushed out just like O'Neill, Faulkner and so many leaders who felt his wrath.

"I'm not all surprised, I came to Belfast in late August and spent all of September researching for my book and it was evident to me at that stage that there was a heave within the party against Paisley.

"At that time, Gordon Brown was expected to call a snap election and there was great fear in the DUP that the Chuckle Brothers image of Paisley and McGuinness would severely dent the party's vote."

So the executioner's hand was stayed but only for a short time says Maloney.

I understand the vast majority of the Westminster MPs and nearly all of the MLAs wanted him to go. His departure for them could be like a lightning rod taking the damage of the deal with him

"I understand the vast majority of the Westminster MPs and nearly all of the MLAs wanted him to go. His departure for them could be like a lightning rod taking the damage of the deal with him."

In the space of a few months Ian Paisley has relinquished three major roles, leadership of his church after 50 years, leadership of Northern Ireland and leadership of the party he founded.

For Maloney it's as much about personal issues as about politics.

"It's a matter of age, some of his performances in the assembly revealed a man who, in the words of a party member to me, had come to the job just too late in life.

"The manner of his departure from the Free Presbyterian Church set the standard for how he'd be forced to leave the party.

"Senior people within the church made it clear the time had come and rather than face a humiliating vote, he did a deal whereby he left at his own choosing."

So is the DUP set for a period of fighting for the spoils left in Paisley's wake?

"I fully expect Peter Robinson to take the leadership with Nigel Dodds as his heir apparent in the same sort of deal that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had.

"But then, we all know what happened to that cosy deal!"



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