Paisley in St Patrick’s Day celebrations surprise!

Whatever happened to Dr No? I never never never thought I’d hear a loyal servant of the British Empire say this:

Ian Paisley has called for St Patrick’s Day to be designated a public holiday in Northern Ireland.

The first minister and former moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church said he always celebrates the day by preaching about the saint.

Mr Paisley said he thought 17 March should be a day off for everyone on the island of Ireland.

“I have proposed it in the House of Commons and I have proposed it here,” said the North Antrim MP.

“Maybe they’ll celebrate my passing by saying to St Patrick ‘you can have a day to yourself’.”

I’m sure he’ll be delighted…

As for Paisley’s Democratic Unionists Party, will its 9 MPs back Brown’s plans for 42-day detention without charge in return for delaying further devolution to Northern Ireland?

Tom Griffin sums up the bind:

An arrangement that invites comparisons with the fag-end of the Callaghan and Major eras is surely not an auspicious prospect for Gordon Brown. There are also dangers for the DUP in being seen to do a side-deal. It would simultaneously demonstrate the party’s lack of principle in relation to British civil liberties, and the Government’s lack of principle in relation to Northern Ireland. By lining up with the payroll vote against the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour backbenchers, the DUP would be affirming that their priorities are fundamentally removed from those of mainstream British politics. That would be powerful ammunition for those who believe that democracy on both sides of the Irish Sea would be enhanced by breaking the connection between Westminster and Northern Ireland altogether.