Belfast, NI: In a surprise development today, former DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley has thrown his hat in the race to succeed Benedict XVI as pope. A spokesman for First Minister Peter Robinson said that the move could be considered unusual, but that the resignation itself was unusual. He said that Dr Paisley had spent a few years in retirement and was now ready for a fresh challenge. Although the same age as the outgoing pontifex, Dr Paisley has overcome his health problems, and would bring valuable leadership experience to the role. The candidacy has also won the support of Deputy First Minister McGuinness who said that in this year of The Gathering, a role of such prestige would attract many visitors to the country.
Questioned about his previous vehement opposition to rule from Rome, the spokesman said that sometimes change can be best exercised from inside. It should be recalled that in his years as First Minister, Dr Paisley has consorted very successfully with the auld enemy. Asked who he might appoint as Deputy Pope, the spokesman said this had not yet been decided. Under the d’Hondt rule, it may need to be a character from Mecca, he said. In his manifesto, titled “Vote Yes for Dr No”, Paisley said that the true church was British and that he wanted to keep it that way. “King Richard III had faith in Rome, as did King Henry the VIII, for a period”.
Speaking from Craggy Island, Fr Ted said that he was surprised by the move. “Careful now, this could be some sort of joke”. In Armagh, Cardinal Sean Brady denied he had been approached about his vote. He added however that geographic proximity should be given careful consideration ahead of the particular flavour of fire and brimstone to which one adhered. “The faithful are guilty of sometimes reading too much into some slight differences of approach”. We share more than what divides us. He said that there was much to be admired in Dr Paisleys campaign to Save Ulster from Sodomy.
Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, 55, said that Dr Paisley should not be complacent about the result. “Fianna Fail are having talks with a number of available candidates with international name recognition, leadership experience, religious zeal and free time on their hands. He refused to confirm or deny that these included Fidel Castro, Michael Fingleton and Gay Byrne. “Any candidate with our support would have a strong showing, regardless of their recent history, as the polls will show”. Mr Ahern was unavailable for comment due to the ongoing lenten period of sackcloth and ashes.