First Minister Paisley: ‘This House is Pope’
It is one thing to voice such beliefs when one is not in government, but quite another when one is the people’s representative and such expressions confront head-on the pervasive secular orthodoxy and the increasingly prevalent assertions of equality. Indeed, it is a brave assertion altogether, considering the ammunition it gives not only to one’s political opponents, but also to an amoral media.
And so the First Minister was questioned by the SLDP's Dolores Kelly about the ‘anti-gay’ views of his son, who is a junior minister in the devolved government. She said: ‘Further to the offensive comments of recent weeks by junior minister Paisley, that minister will have no role in equality legislation in relation to the gay and lesbian community.’
But while the First Minister assured members that he is ‘opposed to any form of discrimination or harassment against any citizens’, he would not commit himself on the involvement of his son in issues of equality. He declared: ‘No, I am not in a position to give those assurances - this House is sovereign, this House is Pope.’
Cranmer is somewhat surprised to hear the First Minister assert this, believing that he above all ought to be more than aware that the Northern Ireland Assembly is neither sovereign, nor Pope, because sovereignty has been
…unless, like the First Minister of Scotland, the First Minister of Northern Ireland has it in his power to call a referendum…