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Paisley On Paisley

Ian Paisley sporting the beret of the Ulster Resistance, a British terrorist faction he helped found in 1986 before resigning its leadership some years later
Ian Paisley sporting the beret of the Ulster Resistance, a British terrorist faction he helped found in 1986 before resigning its leadership some years later

In a series of interviews recorded for television broadcast the reverend Ian Paisley, the former leader of the DUP and populist demagogue of the British Unionist minority in the north-east of Ireland, has admitted that the civil rights movement of the late 1960s was right in protesting the unfair treatment of the Irish Nationalist community under the old Unionist regime at Stormont. From the London Independent newspaper:

“During more than 40 hours of interviews to be broadcast by the BBC, the 87-year-old agreed that the then unionist government was unfair and unjust in refusing to grant the central civil rights demand of one man-one vote.

“The whole system was wrong,” he declared in his interviews. “It wasn’t one man-one vote. A fair government is that every man has the same power to vote for what he wants.”

The former firebrand said that the political system in Northern Ireland in the 1960s “was not acceptable, not acceptable at all”.

Dr Paisley added: “Those that put their hands to that have to carry some of the blunt and blame for what has happened in our country.

“If you vote down democracy you’re responsible for bringing in anarchy. And they brought in anarchy and they set family against family and friend against friend. It was bad for everybody.”

He insisted however that none of this justified the violence of the Troubles…”

However the Irish Independent reports that:

“IAN Paisley has effectively accused the then Irish government of provoking the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which claimed the lives of 33 people.

The 87-year-old former Democratic Unionist Party leader declared: “They brought that on themselves” as he revisited the standout moments of his political career for a new documentary on his life.

He said he had been very much shocked by the bombings, which are still the subject of controversy. However, he then continued: “But I mean who brought that on them? — themselves.

“It was their own political leaders, who they had endorsed in their attitude to Northern Ireland. At that time the attitude of the southern government was ridiculous.””

Which begs the obvious point. If one is willing to argue that the government and people of Ireland brought upon themselves the state-sponsored terrorist attacks on Dublin and Monaghan in the 1970s then equally the authoritarian Unionist regime in Belfast and the allied British government in London brought upon themselves the armed struggle that arose from the suppression of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Indeed, one can go further and argue that the adamant refusal of the “British”, both in Ireland and Britain, to accept the democratic wishes of the majority of the people living on the island nation of Ireland in the 1900s was in fact the cause of all the violence that we have witnessed over the last nine decades.

Ian Paisley leading a parade of British extremists in 1974, seven days after British terrorists carried out a series of car-bomb attacks that killed and maimed scores of people
Ian Paisley leading a parade of British extremists in 1974, seven days after British terrorists carried out a series of car-bomb attacks that killed and maimed scores of people

6 comments on “Paisley On Paisley

  1. Munsterman

    “Indeed, one can go further and argue that the adamant refusal of the “British”, both in Ireland and Britain, to accept the democratic wishes of the majority of the people living on the island nation of Ireland in the 1900s was in fact the cause of all the violence that we have witnessed over the last nine decades.” – Séamas

    Excellent analysis Séamas – thank you.

    “It was a selling out of all that we stood for and all that our fathers died for ”
    – Paisley on the 1998 GFA in the same interview with Eamonn Mallie

    Re-confirmation that unionists have always known that the GFA was unionism’s last hurrah and that they know the writing is on the wall post-GFA – particularly noteworthy that it is confirmed by Paisley himself.

  2. A sickening, pernicious bigot – a lot of the contemporary sectarian hatred in NI can be laid at his door. How many innocent catholics in NI were killed by people who were whipped up to a frenzy by his vitriolic speeches? Wasn’t he responsible for the 1966 riots over a tricolour in Sinn Fein HQ deep in a backstreet of the Falls Road (where hardly anyone except the neighbours knew it was there) and the Burntollet Bridge attack on Civil Rights protestors? Didn’t he encourage the UVF to start up again? And what good came of it all ? A profitable political career for him and elevation to a peerage! And now sod the loyalists!
    Maybe he is preparing to meet his Maker and trying to assuage a guilty conscience. What a hypocrite he is. Excellent analysis Seamas.

    • Unfortunately much of that is true. Paisley had the potential to be the Slobodan Milošević of western Europe. Thankfully saner heads reigned on all sides despite the madness of the times. I know Martin McGuinness was castigated for saying it but he was right. The north-east of Ireland could have easily become another Bosnia if not for the basic decency of people in both communities and both nations, including some of the combatants.

  3. James Todd

    Generally speaking the idealistic side of me wins over the angry, sabre-ratling side of me when debating with myself over whether armed conflict is still necessary in the occupied corner of Ireland. One of my relatives, now an American citizen, grew up in Belfast during the Troubles. While she is very vocally disdainful of the English (I would say bordering on racist, though understandably), her mother did use to tell her to remember that every English soldier she saw marching in the streets below her home was someone’s son. I think of the history of my own country, how much MLK did without ever committing a violent act, or how Gandhi successfully evicted the English through pacifism alone. I tend to lean towards the idea that we ought to focus on political action and good old-fashioned patience when trying to win a 32-county Ireland for the Irish.

    Then I read shit like this from men and women who form the foundation of the Unionists – not scumbags from some extremist fringe group, but people in the absolute forefront of the “movement” – and, without saying too much or going too far, I understand the sentiment of those who believe armed conflict is still necessary. It’s an unfortunate and sad thing.

    • You are rights, James, it is easy to be outraged, to react with the wish to hit back, in any way or manner. To think, as some still do, “…that the only thing a Brit respects is a Paddy with a gun”. But you are also correct, there are better ways. War is only justifiable where no other alternative exists. We live in a window of opportunity where alternatives are plentiful. However I fear that window may close.

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