Friday, 5 March 2010

Big man’s penultimate bow

The Big Man and Bertie
EVERYONE has to end their time in the sun, whether voluntarily or reluctantly. The decision by the Rev Dr Ian Paisley – a.k.a. The Big Man – not to stand for Westminster attracted global headlines. Seriously – news outlets from Bangor to Bangkok decided it was worthy of attention.

Of course there still remains the matter of whether The Big Man will quit his North Antrim Assembly seat in 2011, but like, loathe, love or abhor him, politics will be much duller for his absence.

In a world dominated by the grey, Ian Paisley was a splash of rhetorical colour. Some of what he said was offensive to some, a salve to others; some of what he said made sense, some seemed akin to the ravings of the unhinged.

And, it was this mixture of reactions that many struggled to encapsulate this week.

As attention turned to the so-called ‘battle royale’ between TUV leader Jim Allister and, at this stage unconfirmed candidate, Ian Jnr, commentators and the public struggled for the best way to describe the legacy of The Big Man.

Did his sermons and evangelistic unionism keep the Troubles going on longer than they should? Would Sunningdale have worked? Were the Anglo-Irish Agreement protests the catalyst in Dublin and London that would pave the way to the eventual Good Friday Agreement? And what were the jokes he shared with Marty?

But all seem to be agreed that the answer to whether he will be forgotten is “NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!”

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