Published Monday, 20 January 2014
Ian Paisley has claimed members of the DUP plotted his downfall. (© Getty)
It comes after Former First Minister Dr Paisley told a BBC documentary that he was confronted with a series of ultimatums by his successor Peter Robinson and the DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in the lead up to his departure in 2008.
The 87-year-old, who previously said he wasn't pressurised into leaving, has now revealed that he was told to step down during a terse meeting at Stormont Castle.
He said: "Nigel Dodds said to me: 'We want you to be gone by Friday'. I just more or less smirked, and Peter said: 'Oh no, no he needs to stay in for another couple of months."
The former MP for North Antrim goes on to add: "One wanted two months to prepare the way for himself and the other one... I don't know what he wanted."
I felt that was private business of the people who were members of the party.
Dr Ian Paisley
Dr Paisley's wife Eileen also delivered a damning assessment of the actions of Mr Robinson, Mr Dodds and other senior figures in the DUP. She says: "I think they assassinated him by their words and by their deeds and by the way they treated him.
"I think they treated him shamefully."
The DUP has responded in a strongly-worded statement which refutes Dr Paisley's comments and claims he has only harmed his legacy.
A spokesperson for the party said: "We are saddened to see Lord Bannside harm his own legacy. In his later years as party leader, many colleagues shielded his frailty from public view, to avoid embarrassment and protect his legacy. Those people are hurt by untrue and bitter comments contained in the documentary."
Mr Robinson said: "As someone who faithfully served Dr Paisley for many decades I will make one final sacrifice by not responding and causing any further damage to his legacy beyond that which he has done himself. Rather than return insult for insult, let me bless him with the mercy of my silence and wish him well."
Mr Dodds said: "Clearly the passage of time has diminished accurate recall of events. What is being said now by Lord Bannside about meetings is inaccurate and stands in stark contrast to everything that he said and did at the time and, indeed, during the years since."
The documentary will be broadcast on BBC NI on Monday evening.
© UTV News