Ian Paisley Jnr dramatically quit from the northern power-sharing executive on Tuesday, and questions are now being raised over how long his father can remain as First Minister.
A series of damaging revelations over Mr Paisley Jnr’s business dealings had made his position increasingly difficult. In particular, his political efforts have been shown to have directly benefited business friends and relatives.
In the eyes of unionist hardliners, he stands accused of sordidly cashing-in power and influence, while placing personal aggrandisement ahead of “saving Ulster” and “preserving the Union”.
The scandal now threatens to engulf Ian Paisley Snr himself, and open debate is taking place inside and outside his DUP party on an early retirement date for the veteran leader.
Paisley Snr has been involved in many of his son’s controversial dealings, including his lobbying on land development and the rental of office premises from another family member. It was also revealed today that the First Minister is facing a standards inquiry in the House of Commons in London over his parliament-funded research payments to his son.
SDLP North Antrim assembly member Declan O’Loan said the resignation “may well be the case of one Paisley down, one Paisley to go”.
Following the DUP’s failure to win a seat in the Dromore by-election to Banbridge Council last week, it was reported that senior party figures, led by Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, invited Ian junior to reflect on his future.
He later told the media at Stormont Castle that he was stepping down with a “certain degree of sadness”, and denied that it was because of “some hidden or some unrevealed wrongdoing”.
He also claimed that he had been cleared by the Assembly Ombudsman, a claim which was later denied.
His resignation from the position of Junior Minister in the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister will leave his father without his closest ally and his one-time heir apparent.
Mr Paisley will also be more exposed to attacks from other parties’ politicians in the assembly chamber without his son beside him, ready to guffaw at his jokes or join in with barbed comments and jibes.
Sinn Féin Assembly member Daithi McKay commenting on the resignation, said that Mr Paisley Jnr still has a number of questions to answer.
“This is certainly not the end of it for Ian Paisley Jnr There are still a number of questions that he needs to answer in relation to the Giants Causeway and other developments,” he said.
“All MLA’s have a responsibility to act in a way that is beyond reproach. Obviously Paisley Jnr has recognised that it is now time to resign from his position as a Junior Minister.”