Spotlight Live: Paisley Death/Scotland Spotlight


Spotlight Live: Paisley Death/Scotland

Is the prospect of stalemate at Stormont threatening Ian Paisley's legacy? Plus a report from Scotland on the challenge to the Union.


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Transcript


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Good evening. On Spotlight tonight we reflect on a big week

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in local and national politics.

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We've seen the laying to rest of Ian Paisley,

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a man who devoted his life - at least the political part of it -

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to the maintenance of the Union.

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Tomorrow that union could be irrevocable severed,

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not by the success of Irish nationalism,

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Paisley's eternal nightmare, but by the decision of the Scottish people.

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Meanwhile, the achievement which has brought Mr Paisley

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most praise since his death,

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the setting up of a power-sharing government with Sinn Fein,

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looks increasingly under threat with his successor, Peter Robinson,

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warning that Stormont is no longer fit for purpose.

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Tonight we reflect on all of this but we begin with Ian Paisley,

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as history begins to decide if his overall contribution

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to Northern Ireland was beneficial or malign.

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Declan Lawn assesses his life and times.

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A colossus who thrived on conflict,

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both religious...

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Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ

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and thou shalt be saved!

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..and political.

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Fellow Loyalists,

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we meet today

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in the most grave of circumstances.

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And the future of this state is at stake.

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But all that changed.

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That was yesterday.

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This is today.

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And tomorrow will be tomorrow.

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I believe Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace.

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Ian Paisley's progress from political outsider

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and religious firebrand to become the leader of Unionism

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and ultimately First Minister was a remarkable one.

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And this place, the stage of the Ulster Hall in Belfast,

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played its own part, because it was from here in the very earliest days

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that he would address religious meetings,

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and it was clear from the outset that his was voice to be reckoned with.

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Whether you be a Protestant or a Romanist,

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whether you be a Jew or belong to any other religion,

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whether you be an Hibernian or an Orangeman,

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whether you be religious or irreligious,

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it matters not.

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You were born naturally as a child of wrath.

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It was as a preacher that Paisley first rose to prominence

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in the 1950s.

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Ordained at age 20, by the time he was 25

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he had established the Free Presbyterian Church.

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In the Mass...

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His firebrand fundamentalism won him a large and loyal congregation,

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and also plenty of enemies.

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I want to say that this wafer,

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after it is consecrated,

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the Church of Rome teaches

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it is the actual body, bones, blood...

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CONGREGATION LAUGHS

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..of Jesus Christ.

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Had he restricted himself to preaching, Ian Paisley might have

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become little more than a footnote in the history of his country.

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But with Ian Paisley, politics was also a calling.

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By the late 1960s he was already a formidable political force.

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His congregation had become a constituency.

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He had a tremendous charisma and was a brilliant orator,

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you know, in the style of kind of demagogic orators of the past.

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And he appealed to that kind of heart of Ulster Presbyterian

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fundamentalism.

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From the outset he was never far from controversy,

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or from accusations that his rhetoric was responsible for violence.

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He clearly was a very persuasive speaker.

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I mean, he had enormous gifts of oratory.

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I said to him on one occasion that I recognised the fact that God

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had given him great gifts, but I said to him,

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"The question is, what use are you going to make of these great gifts?

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"Are you simply going to be a perpetuation of that which

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"you have inherited, or are you going to be able to do something

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"totally different and very constructive with these gifts

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"and be able to lead the Unionist and Protestant community

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"into an accommodation with the majority of people in Ireland?"

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Are you hoping to avoid violence at your meetings now, Mr Paisley?

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There never was any violence at our meetings.

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Never any violence. Our people are not violent people.

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To many, Ian Paisley's uncompromising hard-line stance was an antidote

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to what they saw as weakness at the heart of official Unionism.

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It's all very well now to talk about Unionists in a siege mentality,

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but the reality is we were living in a period

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when the Union was in doubt.

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And Paisley was the man at that point who was actually capturing

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all of those fears, all of those emotions.

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Some people would say Ian Paisley

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was responsible for a large part of the trouble,

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through his street protests and stuff, but they're ignoring

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the things he was protesting against,

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and Paisley always said, if you're under siege,

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the best sort of mentality to have is a siege mentality.

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..members of the Dail,

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you shall not rule over us!

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We are saying no surrender!

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CHEERING

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He may not have led Unionism then, but at its defining moments,

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Paisley's was often the voice that rang out loudest.

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In the mid 1980s, the issue was the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

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Ian Paisley rose to the occasion

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in one of the seminal speeches of his career.

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We say never!

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Never! Never! Never!

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CHEERING

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At times, his protests crossed the line

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between constitutional politics and threat.

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In 1986, he addressed a gathering of Ulster Resistance,

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an organisation which had promised to defend Ulster by any means

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in the event of a British sell-out.

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In his powerful oratory, in his rejection...

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violently, rhetorically,

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of Catholicism and Irish nationalism,

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he was a caricature, almost, of the reasons why Republicans

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believed their campaign was necessary.

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He confirmed to so many that the state of Northern Ireland was

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irreformable, and that the only way was a united Ireland,

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because Unionism could not be changed.

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The state of Northern Ireland had to be rejected.

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It was personified in Ian Paisley.

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In the 1990s, when Republicans and Unionists

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finally reached an agreement,

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it seemed as if Paisleyism as a political force was on the wane.

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-We're to got home, he says.

-Well, what can you do?

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At the peace talks of 1998, he seemed marginalised,

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hecklers accusing him of inciting loyalists and then abandoning them.

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-Ian, where you going to take us?

-The Grand Old Duke of York!

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ALL SHOUT

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It appeared as if history had got the better of Ian Paisley.

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But Ian Paisley had other ideas.

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You have to get these people out now.

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Few people could have imagined the remarkable political comeback

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that was to play out over the following decade.

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Ian Paisley was politically astute.

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He was able to capitalise on Unionist doubts about the peace process

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and then lead his own party into it

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and strike a remarkable deal with Sinn Fein.

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His record is that he castigated, ridiculed and ultimately destroyed

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any Unionist leader who strayed from the doctrinaire Unionist line.

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Faulkner, O'Neill, Trimble, all humiliated, brushed aside.

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Any possibility of compromise with nationalists in the north

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was removed.

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ALL CHANTING: Cheerio! Cheerio! Cheerio!

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And then, obviously, ironically,

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at a quarter to midnight in his own life, he decided to seal the deal

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with Republicans and close the chapter on his past.

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For some of his most loyal supporters, the shock was too much.

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I'm upset, because everything we have been taught

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has been turned right round and stood on its head.

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Quite clearly, the electorate believed the previous utterances

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of Ian Paisley that he would never be sitting in government

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with Sinn Fein. I think that this was the greatest fraud

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perpetrated upon the Unionist community.

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But for those in favour of the Agreement,

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Paisley's shift was a triumph of bravery.

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He was at times very slow,

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and then at times very courageous and very fast.

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And in the end, he in a sense leapt over his party much to the anxiety

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and nervousness and opposition and criticism of some in the DUP ranks

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to make this courageous leap.

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And I don't think anybody else in Unionism could have done that.

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Even the hostility of the early years

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to leaders from the Republic had melted away.

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They wouldn't have thought that the person who threw snowballs

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would be the person who would be prepared to welcome

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that accommodation which involved our relationship between

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the north and the south.

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And he would go down to the Boyne and shake the hands of Bertie Ahern

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in such an enthusiastic way, which is kind of an iconic moment.

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There are certain images which are very powerful images

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and they not only describe what's happening,

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they actually shape and influence what's happening.

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And those kinds of handshakes

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and that kind of cooperation of Martin McGuinness

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move things on in a constructive and helpful kind of way.

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At the end of his life he was a solution to

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the problem that he had, himself, helped to cause.

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But that wasn't all.

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The personal warmth of his relationship with

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Martin McGuinness made headlines all over the world.

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That warmth may have helped steady the peace process.

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No change. Not an inch and no surrender.

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But it also contributed to Ian Paisley's undoing.

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A year after striking a deal with Sinn Fein,

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Paisley had been pushed aside by his party and deposed by his church.

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His family even stopped attending the church he had founded.

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Our hearts were all broken for Ian.

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The children and myself as well,

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and I felt he had been deeply wounded

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in the house of his friends,

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and I just felt that it was really iniquitous of them, and a really

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dreadful, hurtful, nasty, ungodly, un-Christian thing to do.

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Stability at Stormont may have been Ian Paisley's great achievement,

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but even at the hour of his death, that had come into question.

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We shouldn't underestimate the deal that he eventually signed up to,

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but part of his legacy is also that he didn't prepare

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and he didn't condition his people to that compromise

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and to what that would entail.

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After having done the deal at St Andrews,

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he would then lose his church,

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he would then lose the leadership of his own party,

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and he would leave Unionism in the rudderless,

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fractious state that it is today.

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Ian Paisley loomed large over the conflict in Northern Ireland

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and its conclusion.

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The question for history is whether he will be remembered for

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the final act of his life or the turmoil that came before.

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Ian Paisley's political legacy is power sharing

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in a devolved assembly at Stormont.

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Though the dominant parties the DUP

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and Sinn Fein have drawn battle lines

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which threaten to destroy what's been built over

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the last seven years.

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Jennifer O'Leary considers the obstacles to progress.

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A day and a deal, decades in the making.

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To some, it was Ian Paisley's finest hour.

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How good it will be to be part of a wonderful healing in this province.

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Today, we have begun, we have begun the work aplenty.

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And we will all look forward for the great and blessed harvest.

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Thank you.

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APPLAUSE

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But it hasn't quite worked out like that.

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Seven years on and many now question what the administration

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has actually achieved.

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Stormont appears deadlocked.

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At the heart of the matter is the problem of what happens when

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the partners sharing power cannot agree on a way forward.

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A far cry from the early days of promise.

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It's led the First Minister to describe

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the arrangements for devolved government here as dysfunctional.

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When Peter Robinson took over, there was plenty of money about.

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But then, the property bubble burst.

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So they were already coming into difficult decisions,

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not just smiling together and slapping each other in the back,

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there had to be difficult economic decisions, and that got worse.

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Worst of all is the question of welfare reform.

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Both Sinn Fein and the DUP oppose Westminster cuts,

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but can't agree what to do about them.

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We now have an issue which simply cannot be left on the shelf.

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It's one that has to be dealt with,

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because we simply cannot afford, in terms of welfare reform,

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to lift up the tab of £1 billion a year,

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when we only have a budget for resource expenditure of £10 billion.

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Failure to implement the cuts will see Northern Ireland

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face increasing penalties in the form of fines by the Treasury.

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This is very difficult.

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You cannot go on spending money the way we've been spending money

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when we know that the welfare reform penalties are coming,

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and that there will be Sinn Fein imposed cuts on the parties

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and on the departments right across. That is a serious issue.

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I believe, if welfare reform or welfare cuts is

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the trigger for any collapse of the institutions,

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and we are not asking for a collapse by way of the institutions,

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we would be very disappointed that has to be the case,

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but if people want to use that,

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then I believe it's a surrogate reason for the collapse.

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I think there are parties who are struggling, and I think

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they might want to exploit the issue of the welfare cuts.

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The increasingly fractious nature of Northern Ireland politics

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clearly reflects a breakdown in trust between the two main parties.

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Stormont has been dogged by community tensions over flags and parading,

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and, in particular, on dealing with the past.

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There have been a whole series of matters in key areas

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like education and health, where the decision making progress

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appeared very strained

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and very hard to follow from a distance.

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You would certainly have to look at the Maze/Long Kesh project because,

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although the DUP were never overly keen on it, it was

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very, very important to the whole Sinn Fein project.

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They were determined that it would go ahead.

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They believed they had a deal, that it would go ahead.

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It was all part of a wider trade-off there.

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So, when the plug was pulled on it in such dramatic circumstances,

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that was a fairly dramatic confirmation

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that things were not as they should be.

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Martin McGuinness recently suggested that a so-called Gang of Nine

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within the DUP forced Peter Robinson to renege on the Maze development.

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This is bunkum, this is just nonsense speculation.

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He doesn't know the internal workings of the DUP.

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So, I simply cast that aside.

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Let's get back on the real issue which is

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the fact that we have a difficulty,

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we have a serious issue regarding welfare reform,

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and the implications for the budget in Northern Ireland.

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But as with the DUP's political concerns about the Maze project,

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observers perceive Sinn Fein's internal politics

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holding a major sway over the current impasse over welfare reform.

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In the south, they're criticising the government of the day

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for making cuts and introducing austerities, and saying, "This

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"isn't necessary, we could spend our way out of this," basically.

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And then, if they are seen to introduce similar austerities in

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the north, water charges would be an example,

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they're against it in the south.

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The other parties will accuse them of hypocrisy.

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The First Minister's recent statement that Stormont isn't working

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has pushed the failures of the assembly centre stage.

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In many ways, I would say that it is almost a relief that

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Peter Robinson has openly acknowledged

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the depth of the problems which are being faced at Stormont.

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Because for many years, for a long period, not just the DUP,

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but the other main parties at Stormont would have said that

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there are minor difficulties.

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But, generally speaking, we have made spectacular progress,

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we are doing wonderful work, apart from a few critics on the fringes.

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We are proceeding as we should do.

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When it was absolutely clear, not just to observers in the press,

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but also to the general public, that things were not working,

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that this was effectively a dysfunctional administration.

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The question now is do Sinn Fein and the DUP have the ability

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and the political will to agree a way forward,

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or will they simply blame each other for failure?

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The real issue is about the intransigence of Sinn Fein.

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There seems to be just a total resistance on the part of

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Sinn Fein to face up to the reality.

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Well, anybody who says that they can't work power sharing,

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in my view, they are not applying themselves.

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They are not fit for the purpose.

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They can be, and they should be, and, in fact, they do need to be.

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I mean, Ian Paisley opposed the Good Friday Agreement, resolutely.

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Ian Paisley campaigned against it.

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But ultimately, eventually, when negotiations were concluded,

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he became the First Minister.

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Peter Robinson has followed him on as the First Minister.

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He needs to embrace the political institutions

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and make them applicable,

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because the institutions are fit for purpose,

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and Peter doesn't work them in the way in which he needs to,

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then he needs to ask himself, is he fit for purpose?

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So what now?

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With Stormont apparently gridlocked, there is talk on the horizon of

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another new round of talks being led by the British and Irish governments.

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Because, as the days grow shorter, so too does the likelihood

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of the main parties brokering a deal on welfare change and a budget.

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If Ian Paisley's blessed harvest is looking rather

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full of weeds at the moment, in Scotland,

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voters might be about to take a big scythe to the Union.

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The Yes and No camps in the referendum are neck-and-neck

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but, whichever way the vote goes,

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the repercussions will be felt in Northern Ireland,

0:20:310:20:34

as Ciaran Tracey has been finding out.

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A message writ large over West Belfast -

0:20:420:20:45

about a referendum taking place in Scotland.

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But why does it matter here?

0:20:500:20:52

Scotland is about to decide

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whether or not to walk away from the United Kingdom,

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and whatever way the vote goes on Thursday,

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the implications for the Union here are profound.

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Many here are nervous.

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These County Antrim Orangemen were up at the crack of dawn this weekend

0:21:050:21:09

for a flight to Edinburgh, joining a huge parade backing a no vote.

0:21:090:21:13

I think it's important from the point of view that we show

0:21:130:21:16

solidarity with the brethren in Scotland. I think it would have

0:21:160:21:20

big ramifications for us here in Northern Ireland

0:21:200:21:24

if Scotland voted yes.

0:21:240:21:26

I would see it as a massive threat to the Union.

0:21:260:21:29

Five or six years ago I was in Edinburgh for something

0:21:290:21:32

the same on the Act of Union.

0:21:320:21:34

And I don't think the government took it serious enough at that time.

0:21:340:21:39

And now, this is the result of it.

0:21:390:21:42

The momentum gathered by the Yes campaign in Scotland

0:21:430:21:46

has taken everyone by surprise.

0:21:460:21:49

And Northern Irish Unionists, ever alert to the threat from

0:21:490:21:52

Irish Republicanism, now find themselves

0:21:520:21:54

confronted by the possibility that a break-up

0:21:540:21:57

of the Union might come from their own kith and kin.

0:21:570:22:01

The unsettling and unnerving effect that a division in this

0:22:010:22:04

wonderful union would have, that it would get

0:22:040:22:06

the tails up of Irish Republicans in my part of the kingdom,

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and would drive another wedge into the hearts and souls

0:22:100:22:14

of people in Ulster.

0:22:140:22:16

I think that one of the things that has happened is that

0:22:160:22:18

Northern Unionists have realised - very late in the day -

0:22:180:22:22

this could have more profound implications for us

0:22:220:22:25

than it actually has for Scotland.

0:22:250:22:27

And it has taken them a long time to catch up on that.

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At their closest points, there's only something like

0:22:310:22:34

ten miles of water between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

0:22:340:22:37

But they feel so much closer,

0:22:370:22:39

and that's because of a shared history and a shared heritage.

0:22:390:22:42

But this vote calls into question that shared identity.

0:22:420:22:45

And, of course, that's particularly difficult for the Unionist community.

0:22:450:22:49

The short journey across the Irish Sea has long been made

0:22:490:22:52

by Orangemen, back and forth between the two countries for marches.

0:22:520:22:56

Last Saturday, the Orange Order's top brass from Northern Ireland

0:22:570:23:00

were also making the trip to what they believed could be

0:23:000:23:04

one of the most important marches they've ever attended -

0:23:040:23:07

opposing the vote for Scottish independence.

0:23:070:23:09

It would be like losing a member of the family in many ways.

0:23:110:23:13

And, yes, you would survive and it would continue,

0:23:130:23:16

but the United Kingdom wouldn't be the same again.

0:23:160:23:19

If it is a yes vote, surely it must be

0:23:190:23:21

the case that we are incrementally closer to a united Ireland?

0:23:210:23:24

Not necessarily. It will probably strengthen

0:23:240:23:26

the resolve within the Unionist people to work against that.

0:23:260:23:29

But other passengers on this boat

0:23:290:23:30

want a different future for their homeland.

0:23:300:23:33

I think you have to take the risk,

0:23:330:23:34

you have to take the jump in order to get the benefits.

0:23:340:23:37

There's just no other way, apart from staying the way we are.

0:23:370:23:39

It's clearly not working the way it is.

0:23:390:23:41

I genuinely believe it would be better off independent

0:23:410:23:45

than it would with devolution.

0:23:450:23:48

We have no option, we've got to vote yes.

0:23:480:23:50

We've been an independent country for 1,000 years,

0:23:500:23:53

except for the last 300.

0:23:530:23:55

It's our time. I hope the Scottish people back it.

0:23:550:23:58

The polls are tight. At this point in time, no-one can call it.

0:23:580:24:02

And even if the no vote wins through on Thursday,

0:24:020:24:05

this referendum has been such a close-run thing that the landscape

0:24:050:24:09

has undoubtedly changed forever.

0:24:090:24:12

Even if the Union is victorious in the referendum,

0:24:120:24:15

it will be such a narrow thing it will look much more fragile

0:24:150:24:18

than it has done hitherto. If the Union looks less durable,

0:24:180:24:20

then that's judged to be good for Sinn Fein.

0:24:200:24:22

Back in February, Gerry Adams set out the situation as he saw it.

0:24:220:24:25

It's now quite clear that the so-called United Kingdom

0:24:270:24:30

is held together by a thread.

0:24:300:24:32

And that thread can be unravelled, either as a result of referenda

0:24:320:24:38

in Scotland or elsewhere.

0:24:380:24:40

Not if 10,000 Orange supporters gathered in Edinburgh

0:24:400:24:43

last Saturday have anything to do with it.

0:24:430:24:46

The parade was organised as a massive show of loyalty to the Union.

0:24:460:24:50

And, in this field at least,

0:24:500:24:51

the Orange Order was preaching to the converted.

0:24:510:24:55

Our strength in numbers here today not only

0:24:550:24:57

demonstrates our commitment to the cause, but also our

0:24:570:25:00

grave concern at the imminent threat

0:25:000:25:03

to the Union that we all hold so dear.

0:25:030:25:05

Coming together to defend the Union should have been wee buns.

0:25:050:25:08

In reality, it hasn't been that simple because, even though they're

0:25:080:25:13

on the same side, the Better Together campaign - made up of the parties

0:25:130:25:16

seeking a no vote - doesn't want anything to do with the Orange Order.

0:25:160:25:20

And they've gone out of their way to distance themselves from the march.

0:25:200:25:24

I think they are concerned that the Orange Order is not

0:25:240:25:27

something that they want to be associated with.

0:25:270:25:29

They don't want to open the Pandora's box

0:25:290:25:32

of sectarianism, essentially, so they've tried to

0:25:320:25:34

distance themselves from it as much as they can.

0:25:340:25:36

David Clegg of The Daily Record,

0:25:360:25:38

Scotland's Labour-supporting paper,

0:25:380:25:40

says the Better Together campaign had bigger priorities

0:25:400:25:43

than appealing to Scotland's connections with Ulster.

0:25:430:25:46

If you ask them why have you not make more of an

0:25:460:25:48

emotional argument for the Union, they'll say it's not

0:25:480:25:50

because there's not an emotional argument to be made,

0:25:500:25:52

it's not because Scots don't believe in the Union

0:25:520:25:55

and feel those emotional binds, it's because we're

0:25:550:25:57

focusing relentlessly on undecided voters.

0:25:570:25:59

This emotional argument,

0:25:590:26:00

these ties, have not really featured that heavily.

0:26:000:26:02

Perhaps that is one of the reasons that alarm bells

0:26:020:26:06

over Scottish independence took so long

0:26:060:26:07

to ring in the ears of Unionists in Northern Ireland.

0:26:070:26:11

But now, they're ringing. Loud and clear.

0:26:110:26:13

Belfast loyalist Sam McCrory views this vote as

0:26:150:26:18

the greatest challenge the Union has ever faced.

0:26:180:26:21

I've done my fighting back home,

0:26:210:26:22

and I'm prepared to fight again back home, so I am.

0:26:220:26:26

But this is on a new level over here.

0:26:260:26:30

If it got to the stage where we weren't part

0:26:300:26:32

of the United Kingdom any more, I dread to think,

0:26:320:26:35

I can't even think what might occur for you and I,

0:26:350:26:38

for our kids and for our kids' kids.

0:26:380:26:40

So the Orangemen march, to maintain the Union that's now in jeopardy.

0:26:420:26:46

But for one Scottish voter at least, the link with Northern Ireland

0:26:460:26:49

itself simply doesn't feature in his decision-making.

0:26:490:26:52

I'm voting yes because I believe

0:26:520:26:55

it's what the people of Scotland want.

0:26:550:26:58

How do you think Northern Ireland would feel,

0:26:580:27:00

because there's a proud Ulster-Scots heritage there?

0:27:000:27:03

That's not our problem, is it? Is that being unfair?

0:27:030:27:06

It's not our problem, you know.

0:27:060:27:09

The outcome is unknown.

0:27:090:27:11

But what's certain is that the vote will have a long-term effect

0:27:110:27:14

on Northern Ireland, whatever the result.

0:27:140:27:15

No matter what happens this Thursday, Ulster Unionism

0:27:170:27:21

is going to fragment further.

0:27:210:27:22

And that has got great implications for the future of Stormont,

0:27:220:27:26

and for the relationships, the numerical and relative strength

0:27:260:27:29

of the main nationalist party and the main Unionist party.

0:27:290:27:33

I think if Scotland does leave the UK,

0:27:330:27:35

then, for Unionists, there will be a time for reflection.

0:27:350:27:38

I don't think Unionism will be unable to recover from it, but it

0:27:380:27:41

will be a blow to which they will have to respond in imaginative ways.

0:27:410:27:45

So this is the end of the parade today,

0:27:450:27:47

as it passes the Scottish Parliament behind me, which,

0:27:470:27:50

whatever the outcome of this referendum, is changing.

0:27:500:27:53

The question is, what will these changes mean for Northern Ireland?

0:27:530:27:56

And that's all from this edition of Spotlight.

0:27:570:28:00

Thank you for watching, good night.

0:28:000:28:01

Is the prospect of stalemate at Stormont threatening Ian Paisley's devolution legacy. Plus a report from Scotland on the challenge to the Union. With Noel Thompson.


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