Paisley learns to share

Who would ever have thought it? Ian Paisley will be first minister in Stormont come March 2007. He will head up a joint powersharing executive with Sinn Féin, with Martin McGuiness as deputy first minister.


Paisley's not sure if he wants it or not, but he'll do it. He'll be first minister and he'll do his best to serve all parts of the population.

He doesn't think Irish politics can be understood. He reckons you have to live in the North to know northern politics and you have to live in the South to understand southern politics, but he has a good rapport with people from all over, he says.

He thinks the people of Northern Ireland, himself included, deserve better things.

He's hopeful there's a good way of getting to a place where everyone agrees without selling the kernel of democracy.

Hello! Is this the same craw-thumping, sackcloth-and-ashes Paisley we've grown used to?

Apparently it is. There he is – a happy, healthy, bible-touching, upbeat Reverend Ian Paisley, aged 80, talking on the News at One (RTÉ Radio 1, 1-1.45pm, weekdays), making history.

In an interview with Tommie Gorman on 27 November, Paisley acknowledges there are two or three people in his party who don't want this to happen. But he goes confidently on the record to say that they [all the DUP] are all “singing from the same hymn sheet... The DUP is a coalition of many people with various views and you're bound to get times like the times we've had, but today was a display of loyalty and unity... which is the way it has to be.” Paisley says he's a fighter and challenges bring out the best in him.

So Ian Paisley will be First Minister in a joint powersharing executive with Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland in March 2007?

“There's no doubt about that, but it has to be done,” he replies.

Paisley is going into a powersharing executive for the sake of his country. Hurrah! He says it's changed times, but the foundation has not changed, everyone should be treated equally under the law. And by brushing off any further discussion of possible opposition within the DUP, he suggests the devils he knows are better than uncertain elements in the DUP.

Friday 24 November was meant to be a historic day in Northern Ireland, and this time it was. But it largely went unnoticed as all attention focused on Michael Stone's rage against democracy.

Paisley made the commitment to enter powersharing with Sinn Féin within four months, as long as Sinn Féin comes around on the policing front, which it will. And Tommie Gorman clinched the moment in his interview on Monday's News at One.

It is the best daily current affairs slot on RTÉ Radio 1. Sean O'Rourke is generally superb whereas Morning Ireland's format, despite some excellent hosting by Richard Downes, is tired and boring and needs something radical to jazz it up. Meanwhile, Drivetime, RTÉ's attempt to jazz-up Five Seven Live, is not working. It sounds like it's still not sure what it's doing. Is it reporting the day's news or moving the stories along? At the moment, it does neither.