April 23rd, 2014

Paisley had star role at wedding of man he says shafted him

Northern IrelandBy Steven Moore
Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley
Timothy Johnston and Naomi Robinson
Timothy Johnston and Naomi Robinson

The Rev. Ian Paisley officiated at the wedding of Timothy Johnston – a year after the special advisor apparently helped oust the DUP leader with his damning secret report.

The Sunday World can reveal the former DUP boss not only attended the wedding of Mr Johnston to his wife Naomi – but that he actually took part in the ceremony.

The wedding took place at Clogher Valley Free Presbyterian Church in the summer of 2009 – 12 months after Mr Paisley was forced out of the party in an apparent bitter coup.

During the second part of the BBC’s special documentary Mr Paisley made explosive allegations about how he was forced to leave the role as First Minister and DUP leader against his wishes in 2008.

He claimed Mr Johnston was behind a confidential survey which asked seven question – five of which were about his leadership.

The results of the survey questioned his ability to do the job and apparently 83 per cent of the MLAs polled thought he should quit.

And Eileen Paisley told the documentary that when her husband brought the report home: “I was furious, to put it mildly and I felt like taking it and ramming it down Timothy Johnston’s throat.”

The fact that Mr Paisley, now known as Lord Bannside, attended the wedding raises questions about his claims at how angry he was with the party about how he was treated.

Timothy Johnston, who comes originally from Tandragee, married Naomi Robinson in a joyous ceremony and the couple later celebrated their nuptials at the luxury five star Lough Erne Resort in Co. Fermanagh.

Naomi’s father Paul is an elected DUP representative who sits on Fermanagh District Council.

The couple, who live in Portadown have a son together.

Nobody from the DUP was available for comment last night.

But a source told us that Timothy Johnston was very hurt by the claims made by his former boss.

“Timothy idolised Ian Paisley and he’s annoyed that things have turned out this way,” said the source.

Following the documentary Mr Johnston strongly denied Ian Paisley’s version of events.

In a statement he said: “Dr Paisley commissioned the survey and was aware of its nature and its findings at the time.

“At no point then or since has Dr Paisley or Mrs Paisley sought to raise these concerns with me despite having had every opportunity to do so.

“After a long and distinguished career it is very regrettable that Dr Paisley, as well as Mrs Paisley, and those who now advise them, have co-operated in the making of two programmes that have significantly and irreversibly damaged his historical legacy.

“Unsurprisingly, the events of that time have not been accurately recalled and indeed the ‘research’ used by the production staff is wrong in many significant respects.”

The wedding of Timothy Johnston to Naomi Robinson took place in Clogher Valley Free Presbyterian Church

Political sources have described Mr Johnston as being “extremely powerful” within the DUP.

“Tim Johnston is the man who sits on the throne,” said one insider.

“He’s right at the top of the party and if anyone is caught out of line it’s Tim Johnston who sorts it out.”

Mr Paisley claimed in the documentary that his special adviser presented him with a survey of DUP MLAs that contained criticisms of his work as first minister, not least his “chuckling” behaviour with Martin McGuinness.

Mr Paisley then alleged a meeting soon followed, involving Mr Peter Robinson, Nigel Dodds as well as party whip Lord Morrow and Timothy Johnson.

“Nigel Dodds said to me I want you to be gone by Friday,” he said.

“I just more or less smirked and Peter said ‘no, no, no he needs to stay in for another couple of months’.”

The aftershocks continue to rumble following the two-part documentary by journalist Eamonn Mallie.

The claims were backed up by the former leader’s wife, Eileen Paisley, who was clearly very angry at the way her husband has been treated.

Eileen Paisley said her husband was “assassinated with words and deeds”, treated shamefully and was left with no option but to stand down.

She described Nigel Dodds as a “cheeky sod”.

“I detected a nasty spirit arising from some of the other MPs and the way they spoke to Ian,” Mrs Paisley said.

“I was very annoyed one day with the way some of them spoke to him and addressed him.

“Whenever they said to him about what was going on and he said to them ‘well, that's what should be done’ and they said ‘och doc’, you know? Sort of, ‘don’t be so stupid’.

“That sort of set the alarm bells ringing in my head,” she added.

The embarrassing affair has also thrown up the awkward issue of how it affects Ian Paisley junior who is the DUP MP for North Antrim.

DUP leader Peter Robinson acknowledged Ian Junior was “in a difficult position” but added that it wouldn’t affect his position in the party.

[email protected]