Northern Ireland

Baroness Paisley: 'Abominable' that MLAs take salary

Eileen Paisley

The wife of the late Ian Paisley has said it is "abominable" that MLAs are taking "money for nothing".

Baroness Eileen Paisley was discussing the Stormont stalemate on the BBC's Sunday Sequence programme.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved power-sharing government since January 2017, when the DUP and Sinn Féin split in a bitter row.

While their pay has been cut, assembly members still receive a salary.

"I know they say they are having meetings but they're not doing what they're paid to do," said Baroness Paisley.

She urged politicians to get back to to power sharing and said they were "failing" the public.

'Petty nonsense'

"It's going to get worse and I dread it, because it leaves us open to all sorts of trouble," she said.

"They [should] get out and see that people are crying out for help. They are failing them the longer they keep out and don't face up to the things that they have to face up to."

She said her message to MLAs would be: "Cut out all the petty nonsense and think of the people - not what or who they are, but what they need. You are responsible."

She said she felt "grieved" that politicians were being paid while others in society were "living on the breadline".

Image caption Northern Ireland has been without a functioning executive since January 2017

In a wide-ranging interview, she also spoke about the prospect of living in a united Ireland.

"It would take a lot to move me out so I like to think I would stay living here," she said.

"It would depend on how it was being ruled," she added.

She said she would stay, as long as there was "freedom of worship and choice in life".

"By this stage, there are enough people of sense, who do not want to be fighting with their neighbours or friends to have it properly united."

Baroness Paisley added that "Irish people all over are a great people - north, south, east, west".

"No matter what part of Ireland they come from, they are a fellow countryman or woman of yours," she said.

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She also touched on the formation of Northern Ireland.

"I wonder why it had to be divided at the time and I think that was a wrong decision.

"I think Lord Carson also was not for dividing Ireland," she said.

But she added it was "too big an issue for me to make a decision on".

She also spoke about the recent election of Alison Bennington, the DUP's first openly gay politician - a move that caused some ructions within the party.

The late Ian Paisley's brother-in-law and election agent resigned from the DUP in response to the party's selection.

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Image caption Baroness Paisley's husband Ian Paisley struck up an unlikely friendship with Sinn Fein's Martin McGuiness when they were first and deputy first ministers

Rev James Beggs - a retired Free Presbyterian minister - said he "wasn't happy with the direction the party was going in".

"I don't hate Ms Bennington," Mrs Paisley said in response.

"I don't know the girl, to start with. I don't hate anybody. But we have to go by what the Bible says.

"We have to love Christ first and what he says, we have to obey his word," she added.

You can hear Baroness Paisley's full interview on the BBC iPlayer. Available until 25 June 2019.

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