That seems to be Ian Paisley Junior's recipe for political suicide. Not content with agreeing to the deployment of PSNI personnel to train Libyan police – a decision which his own colleague Nigel Dodds found so extraterrestrial, and which flew in the face of unionist demonization of Libya – Paisley has now come back with what must be the poorest response ever.
"If the deployment had been proposed on the simple basis of the facts which are presently in the public arena then a decision to reject PSNI involvement would have been easy. Looking solely at a black and white picture of the situation in Libya and its relationship to Northern Ireland then the obvious course of action would have been to oppose any personnel deployment to that country. However, I was made aware of much wider and more detailed issues which, if others were aware of them, I believe would lead them to reach a very different conclusion. I am not permitted, nor would I ever breach the trust and confidence of that office in order to counter what, for reasons of confidentiality, can only be part of the story.
I have previously been threatened with jail for refusing to betray confidences. The Secretary of State has made his decision and I have no intention of compromising personnel by making any further comments."
In other words, 'I screwed up royally, but ... nudge, nudge, wink, wink … the PSNI members were up to top-secret stuff, you know, which I can't tell you about …. oops, I just did!'
And then he just clams up and refuses to say anything, and pretends that it's for higher motives.
So in one sorry little incident, Ian Paisley Junior has:
- Taken his eye off the ball and failed to push the unionist agenda on the Policing Board,
- Shown that the unionist hype about Libya is just hype, with no real commitment (in some quarters at least),
- Pretended that he has access to 'top-secret' information about the purported role of the PSNI members in Libya,
- Treated the public (and his own voters) like fools,
- Endangered the safety of any future PSNI secondees to Libya or elsewhere, by hinting that they are really spying on the host country,
- Seriously annoyed the British Foreign Office, for whom such exchanges are used as bridge-building exercises,
- And handed Jim Allister a rod to beat him with in the upcoming election in North Antrim.
What a foolish man.