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.