I’ve just come off the Stephen Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster, where Gregory Campbell and myself were commenting on Ian Paisley Senior’s latest pronouncements. In an interview with the BBC World Service, the former DUP leader says he stands by his belief that the Pope is the Anti-Christ and he is convinced unionists will never allow Martin McGuinness to become First Minister. Gregory, asked about the views of his former party leader, ducked and dived on both questions. At first he claimed he hadn’t been asked if he agreed with Ian Paisley on the Anti-Christ thing, and then when reminded by myself and Nolan that he had, he said Anti- meant ‘In the place of’. What about the dictionary definition wich describes the Anti-Christ as the one opposed to Christ and dedicated to spreading evil throughout the world? Nah. I suggested that if Paisley sees the Pope as the Anti-Christ because he claims to forgive sins, the same claim is made by every Catholic priest in the world. Are they all Anti-Christs? Gregory ducked that one too. Very wise. Might have sounded a bit anti-Catholic.
As to the idea of Martin McGuinness being First Minister, Gregory like his leader insists it won’t happen. He could be right: it depends on whether the DUP and the UUP detest each other more than they do republicans. But the key question is, do the DUP and Gregory accept the Good Friday Agreement? Because according to the GFA, if Sinn Fein are the largest party, McGuinness is entitled to be First Minister. You’ve probably noticed the direction in which this train of logic is chuff-chuffing: democracy is OK, as long as it delivers the results we want. If it doesn’t, it’s a non-starter, a not-to-be-tolerated, a a well you know a sort of a political Anti-Christ. And as decent Christian people we just couldn’t stand for that.