Paisley: Genesis to Revelation (Old Testament)

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Last week’s papers and news bulletins spoiled many of the story lines in last night’s first part of Eamonn Mallie’s conversations with Ian Paisley on BBC One NI. (Available to watch on-demand.)

still from eamonn mallie ian paisley interviewForty hours of interviews were conducted between October 2012 and March 2013, so we’re only scraping the surface of their discussions and there are many gaps in the timeline that some viewers might have wanted to explore. Expect a book to mop up the rest!

There was little sign of the impish Ian Paisley with a twinkle in his eye. And little sign of the bombastic, aggressive figure that dominates the imagery of his politics and preaching. Instead a subdued and occasionally reflective Lord Bannside sat opposite a soft-focus Eamonn Mallie and quietly blamed everyone but himself for what happened in Northern Ireland over the last 50 years.

Liam Clarke commented in a recent Belfast Telegraph opinion piece:

Perhaps the most shocking admission in the show was that he believed the civil rights movement’s demands to be right all along. He added that he could not associate himself with it because he believed that those in charge supported a united Ireland.

The problem is that he didn’t just not associate with it and stand aloof, he actively opposed it and was jailed for staging rowdy counter-demonstrations. He also attacked unionist leaders who tried to reform the system, making peaceful change impossible.

Perhaps the Big Man needed to pay more attention to Gerry Adams as he sat next to him at the corner of the diamond table. If you’re going to rewrite history, you need to do it as you go along rather than starting aged 87.

Peter Robinson has already disputed some of Ian Paisley’s recollections: it sounded like a clarification sentence had been added late to the documentary. From the comfort of your study, criticising the current leadership of the party you helped found will never be appreciated.

The cleric’s lack of grace seems set to continue next week with the follow-up programme’s trails showing Baroness Paisley joining her husband in condemning those in the Free Presbyterian Church who ousted him as moderator in late 2007/early 2008. Setting the record straight will do little to boost the witness of the relatively small denomination.

Enoch Powell’s statement comes to mind:

All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.

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  • 241934 john brennan

    All very sad. Like we bloggers, he has a weakness for making his views public. Much better for him if he had kept a dignified silence, and kept away from publicity, particularly TV cameras.

  • Barney

    “Instead a subdued and occasionally reflective Lord Bannside sat opposite a soft-focus Eamonn Mallie and quietly blamed everyone but himself for what happened in Northern Ireland over the last 50 years.”

    I agree with john (and Alan) above, it was simply a trailer for Mallie’s (soon to be published) book.

  • Delphin

    Paisley has always been about Paisley. He had to have he own church, political party, orange order, newspaper etc. Couldn’t really get involved in anything unless he was in charge.
    I had hoped that we had heard the last of the old fart, but no he feels he must share the ramblings of his aged mind with us. I would regard these as the death throws of a malign ego and best ignored. For all his religiosity he has never been more than a “hollow man”

    http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~richie/poetry/html/poem74.html

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Blaming everyone but himself just about sums it up.Need to watch it a second time but a person unfamiliar with Norn iron might have the impression O’Neill resigned after August 1969.
    I think it should be judged on the omissions rather than what was actually in it.
    The omission of a 1950s story that brought Paisley to the attention of the Belfast catholic population.
    His comment on the Reavey family in House of Commons also not pursued and Paisley himself mentioned Kingsmills.

    Editing…yes it was a voice over to point out that Robinson took issue with Paisleys recollection.
    But perhaps someone more familiar with TV process could tell me if two cameras were employed…ie one focussed on Paisley and the other on Mallie and the editing “joined” the two.
    Or was just one camera trained on Paisley and afterwards Mallies questions re-shot.
    I think this is important because the inflections in Mallies follow ups or reactions to Paisleys answers seemed odd. Certainly the follow ups would have irritated Paisley in his prime to the point of aborting the interview/conversation.
    Paisleys powers of recollection were variable which might make him appear generally unreliable.
    He has fostered the image of Father of Norn Iron….a cuddly figure ….but his own answers last night …destroyed that image.

    If this is what a Truth and Reconciliation process looks like….we would be better to avoid it.

  • Barney

    “If this is what a Truth and Reconciliation process looks like….we would be better to avoid it.”

    Fortunately Mallie isnt an advocate otherwise we would know everyone’s favourite colour and the name of their dog.

    I dont understand what the programme was for…..

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    (FJH – the stills from the production showed two cameras running.)

  • sherdy

    I think the purpose of the programmes is to massage the egos of both men.

    The 40 years of Paisley’s career spent rabble rousing and stirring up rioting and murder far outweigh the three years after he achieved his life’s ambition of being top-dog in N Ireland making friends in every direction.

    Never once in those 40 years of wearing a Christian dog-collar did he ever mention the words: ‘Love thy neighbour’.

    And after all that can we be surprised that those he poisoned with hatred and bigotry could not perform his volte face and turned on him both politically and religiously, casting him into the wilderness?

  • boondock

    Forty hours of interviews!! Give me 5 mins on google or youtube it would certainly be more revealing than listening to Ian having several memory lapses

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Thank you Alan.

  • Framer

    Eamonn Mallie’s description of life for Catholics in Northern Ireland in 1968 was so fierce and tendentious, it almost forced Paisley into his hypocritical remarks about recognising civil rights were being denied by the Unionist government.
    The matter of the franchise (‘one man one vote’) was particularly distorted by Eamonn (as the BBC repeated inaccurately on its website).
    It is worth repeating that the only difference from the rest of the UK was in relation to local government where the ratepayers vote (and spouses) was retained. (It was reformed in England 20 years earlier).
    This was not discriminatory as both Protestant and Catholic non-ratepayers, mostly the adult children of ratepayers were all disenfranchised.
    As we also know, NICRA was a broad front composed of Republicans, communists, nationalists, NILP socialists and even a few unionists. It was controlled by the Communist Party of Northern Ireland (Moscow-trained Betty Sinclair chaired it) in concert with Republicans.
    Their strategy was reform NI and then move toward a united Ireland with the Unionists no longer being ‘privileged’ and thus no longer being beholden to the all-class alliance.
    That required one to believe, as Republicans still do, that Ulster Protestants are not British but deluded Irish led by furcoaters.
    They are not, which explains why they resisted the IRA from 1970 and the war went on immorally for 30-years.

  • Seamuscamp

    As a 70+ year old, I’d say it is unfair to judge the accuracy of the ramblings of an 80+ year old. I remember my grandmother’s description of a disaster that occurred before she was born – but she was adamant she witnessed it.

    From the sound of it, this is Gove-like history; history like you would have wanted it to be. Reality it was not. YouTube have plenty Paisley-heavy to contradict this Paisley-light. The elision of the kidnapped girl, the preaching of hatred, the dubious doctorate – you wouldn’t expect him to draw attention to such things. But have a look at YouTube where a younger man speaks, without embarrassing hindsight, for himself.

  • Stewart Finn

    FJH

    There were definitely two cameras and during my viewing I noticed the sound was off at points on Mallie’s mic (it was in time but the quality was off) so it was recorded live too. I am sure they recorded the odd noddy and re-asked question but it seemed to run pretty smoothly, although I am by no means an expert.

  • Banjaxed

    ‘…blamed everyone but himself for what happened in Northern Ireland over the last 50 years.’

    So what’s new about that? Isn’t that the default position of Orangism and Unionism in general?

    From Framer’s re-interpretation and skewed analysis (above) of the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, to Paisley’s finger pointing at the Southern Gov’t for the Dublin/Monaghan bombs, right up to the start of the flags protest:-
    ‘Rioting? Holding the City to ransom? Wrecking neighbourhoods? Attempted murder and death threats on elected reps?’
    ‘Nothing to do with us, Guv. It was them Shinners and Alliance wot dunnit’.

    There’s always a conspiracy. Their raison d’etre cannot be justified otherwise.

    And Paisley’s final denunciation at the end of the first programme scathingly commenting on other peoples’ egos. This from HIM? The GREAT EGO OF ULSTER??

    I nearly swallowed the TV.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    ‘Never once in those 40 years of wearing a Christian dog-collar did he ever mention the words: ‘Love thy neighbour’.’

    @Sherdy,

    So you were a regular at his weekly sermons at Ravenhill. I wouldn’t have expected it.

  • braniel unionist

    Alan, Liam etc….
    Contrary to most of the above, Dr Paisley’s view of the Civil Rights era is consistent with his antipathy towards the Unionist establishment of the time. Like most of us, he has obviously got wiser with age and made some humbling remarks about Bloody Sunday. You just can’t have it both ways!

  • BarneyT

    The remarks regarding bloody Sunday and the lack of democracy are to be welcomed. Whilst these remarks may have raised an eyebrow in places, I don’t think anyone needed a show like this to tell us what kind of man Ian Paisley was.

    He’s a leader no doubt….but as a leader he was irresponsible. I hope those that were inspired to hate or murder in fearful paranoid are able to look back and understand that they were led by the nose towards destruction and complete disenfranchisement.

    Ok, republicanism headed down a path that can only have inspired Paisley further and give credence to his histrionics…but that aside, his demonization of the Irish and the dominant religion within that culture, Rome etc..based on twisted paranoia and cultivated hatred caused a great deal of damage within unionism and resonates to this day.

    Didn’t Hitler use similar tactics and I don’t mean to be overly emotive using that comparison.

    Paisley is not responsible for all our problems and is in many ways a product of an awful past. He must take responsibility for carrying problems forward and exacerbating them.

    His legacy is one of hatred and would-be killing. Many will compare Gerry Adams remarks with his Monaghan\Dublin comments, but there’s a difference between commenting on a suicidal path taken to the north coupled with a sense of being untouchable…and the politics (policy towards north) of the republic being responsible for the murder of 30+ civilians.

    Some will see an equivalence.

    Whilst Paisley is to be congratulated for entering into government with SF just as much as SF should be for steering the IRA towards peace, his legacy of damage will represent him in history.

    I’ll place him somewhere between Margaret Thatcher and Hitler (in terms of demonization tactics).

  • DC

    Never once in those 40 years of wearing a Christian dog-collar did he ever mention the words: ‘Love thy neighbour’.

    And after all that can we be surprised that those he poisoned with hatred and bigotry could not perform his volte face and turned on him both politically and religiously, casting him into the wilderness?

    I’ll second that.

  • socaire

    Of all people you would expect Mallie to know the colours on the Irish tricolour.

  • DC

    I’ll place him somewhere between Margaret Thatcher and Hitler (in terms of demonization tactics).

    Yes, Hitler. Indeed. Big Ian’s political strategy of ‘No Surrender Ever’ was akin to Hitler’s static defence on the eastern front, as opposed to Von Manstein’s elastic defence, unfortunately Unionism has yet to find its von Manstein and has suffered from its very own Hitler, except this one largely driven by religion less race.

    Some background on the analogy-

    ‘Erich von Manstein continued to argue with Adolf Hitler about overall strategy on the Eastern Front. Erich von Manstein advocated an elastic, mobile defence. He was prepared to cede territory, attempting to make the Soviet forces either stretch out too thinly or to make them advance so fast so that their armoured spearheads could be counter-attacked on the flanks with the goal of encircling and destroying them. Adolf Hitler ignored Erich von Manstein’s advice and continued to insist on static warfare all positions held by the Germans were to be defended to the last man. Because of these frequent disagreements, Erich von Manstein publicly advocated that Adolf Hitler relinquish control over the army and leave the management of the war to professionals, starting with the establishment of the position of commander-in-chief in the East (Oberbefehlshaber Ost). Adolf Hitler, however, rejected this idea numerous times, fearing that it would weaken his hold on power in Germany.’

    Strategically, Unionism needs to learn how to do temporary surrenders with a view to achieving more gains over the long term or at least regaining lost positions than losing them forever!

    Of course big Ian couldn’t let go of his No Surrender God-like approach to politics fearing that it would weaken his hold over the DUP and mean he would never rise to FM and gain the power he always craved. But it was at the expense of Unionist politics as unionism as a political brand is on the decline. Even small u unionists have become unstuck, such as those that might like 365 days a year of union flag at belfast in a dignified manner rather than on lamp posts, but Alliance have eaten up those more flexible unionist votes and now deny that to Unionists as they are agnostic on the union. Alliance claims not be Unionist.

    Perhaps if Unionism had a Von Manstein the UUP would have by now learned the art to see off Alliance.

  • Barney

    DC its not really a good idea to draw an analogy with the Nazis………ever

  • DC

    It is what it is – an analogy.

  • Barney

    Ja an änälögy bita

  • Gopher

    I’m not sure Northern Ireland needs a Von Manstein DC, after all he refused every overture of Von Treskow to remove Hitler. Manstein lacked moral courage and had not Hitler’s understanding of the neccessity of the Ukraine to feed occupied Europe and the Donets Basin for her raw materials.(checkout Wages of Destruction the making and breaking of the Nazi economy) Hitler also understood that Germany had not the logistic capacity nor fuel to fight anything other than a fixed defence tied to railheads. (The German generals got to write their memoirs and to a man take credit for the victories and blame Hitler for the defeats. ) Manstein other failure was he failed to grasp that he was no longer fighting for Germany but a ruthlessly rational Dictator and his apparatus determined to prolong their existence. No doubt somebody (since it is Slugger) will come along and blame the Allies demand for unconditional surrender. I dont think Northern Ireland needs any geniuses just more people like Treskow, Stauffenberg or Sophie Scholl and the electorate to stop acting like blinkered apathetic sheep though to be fair although they had just as many sheep they only had one warped ideology to contend with. Better watch it or we will get yellow carded for going off topic :D

  • DC

    Well technically it was a military strategy analogy around 1943 or so concerning the Wehrmacht vis a vis the Red Army.

    Von Manstein was regarded as one of the more honourable commanders of the Wehrmacht, after the war he was tasked to form the West German Army, Bundeswehr, so his hands were at the time regarded as relatively clean in terms of Nazism and for the purposes of my analogy a Terence O’Neill chap of the Wehrmacht.

    He knew that temporary strategic surrenders had to made, without them Germany was going to lose.

    Of course von Manstein knew that his elastic defence was not going to win the war but it would tie down the Russians hopefully into deadlock which at that point from a position of relative strength Germany could negotiate for peace, he foresaw in his plans a lesser role for Hitler away from the Army (perhaps even to be taken out) and this would have helped making peace easier. Sadly No Surrender static defence was the order of the day, Germany over run, its women raped in the East as the Russians made their way in and millions killed and Germany cut in two.

    So, in Northern Ireland terms the Paisley No Surrender succeeding over the von Manstein Terence O’Neill approach spiralled the province into chaos which led to 3,000+ lost lives.

    SF now in government and while the province not physically cut in two politically it is, add into that North South Ministerial Council and all the other inter-governmental stuff, you have to wonder why anyone still backs the DUP?

    And for what? Big Ian as FM? And Unionism handed back to the people in a mess and Stormont mutual veto booby trapped.

    For the purposes of my analogy and in the context of NI and Paisley I will use the Times obit of von Manstein:

    “His influence and effect came from powers of mind and depth of knowledge rather than by generating an electrifying current among the troops or ‘putting over’ his personality.”

  • DC

    Manstein other failure was he failed to grasp that he was no longer fighting for Germany but a ruthlessly rational Dictator and his apparatus determined to prolong their existence.

    Well there was that other obit I left out:

    Spiegel magazine was much harsher, saying “He assisted in the march to catastrophe—misled by a blind sense of duty.

    But generally the analogy is grounded in the strategic use of temporary surrenders than no surrender static defence and the benefits from being mobile and ultimately – being flexible will serve your cause better.

  • Charles_Gould

    DC

    “Strategically, Unionism needs to learn how to do temporary surrenders with a view to achieving more gains over the long term or at least regaining lost positions than losing them forever!”

    What David Trimble did, when he was more flexible on things like the prisoner releases (short term/temporary implications) but less flexible on constitutional issues (long term implications).

    I think unionism has changed quite a lot (though it is not obvious day to day) and when you think of the 1970s/80s DUP you see that the religious focus of Paisley has given way to a much more secular DUP of today. It still has its religious focus, but this is much more on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, rather than being “anti-Catholic” as such, with the party even claiming to be in line with Catholic thinking on “moral issues”.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Strategically, Unionism needs to learn how to do temporary surrenders with a view to achieving more gains over the long term or at least regaining lost positions than losing them forever!”

    Exactly!

    What about a few Alan Brookes, Auchinlecks and Dorman-Smiths/O’Gawens?

    Less Nazi stigma.

    http://loyalistsagainstdemocracy.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/king-cnut-knew-his-haass-from-his-elbows.html

    (bottom 1/3 of the page)

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Charles

    Do you ever think the day might come where fundamentalist elements of either side might form some sort of Christian Democratic party and focus solely on things like gay marriage, abortion etc?

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Framer[12.34] As we saw, Lord [Kilk]looney put out a correcting statement to what Paisley said about the franchise, but left one glaring detail out when he claimed the council rulles on voting were brought in from Westminster and one man one vote applied in Stormont and UK elections. Conveniently declining to add that this English model for councils was altered here to avoid abuse by having PR applied to council elections here, which were later ditched by unionists to help with the blatant anticatholic discrimination. But then you knew that when you posted but it didn’t suit to mention it.

  • Morpheus

    Plural Voting was abolished in the rest of the UK in 1948 but it remained in Northern Ireland until 1968.

    This from Dr Landon Hancock on the Cain website:
    “Two categories of voters were formed to ensure Protestant dominance at the polls:
    (1) the ‘ratepayers’, primary occupiers of a household as either tenants or owners, and
    (2) persons who owned commercial property valued at £10 or more per year.
    As only two people per house were allowed to vote [again, something not in operation in the rest of the UK], the ratepayer category effectively excluded lodgers or adult children living at home. Both lodgers and adult children living at home tended to be Catholics due to their lower overall economic status and larger families; thus, Catholic franchise was restricted.

    People in the second category, that is, owners of commercial property, were allowed to nominate special voters for each £10 of value of their property, up to a maximum of six voters (Darby 1976, 50). Since over 90 per cent of the commercial property in Northern Ireland was Protestant owned, this provision expanded their voting franchise and, along with the ratepayer category, extended Unionist control over the ballot box and the government. ”

    Hancock didn’t mention that those in the second category could also nominate special voters in different constituencies:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plural_voting#Northern_Ireland

    So while it did apply to both communities keeping Plural Voting for 20 years AFTER the rest of the UK didn’t have the same effect on both communities because they couldn’t vote in local elections in places like Derry where the Lord Mayor (who was UUP from 1923 to 1969 made the decisions in social housing. Again from Cain:
    “Housing needs at that time were so desperate that hundreds of families, nearly all Catholic, squatted” into Nissen huts which had just been vacated by the American Army. Even now, more than twenty years later, many of these people have not yet been re-housed (the precise number at this moment is 59 huts, housing 90 families), in spite of the fact that the huts are in a tumbledown condition and rat-infested.”
    Issued by THE CAMPAIGN FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE IN NORTHERN IRELAND in 1965.

    Source:
    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/landon.htm

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Am Gobschmacht

    ‘Do you ever think the day might come where fundamentalist elements of either side might form some sort of Christian Democratic party…’

    Not under the present constitutional arrangements, but in the context of a UI, one could envisage these constituencies folding seamlessly into Fine Gael’s right wing.

  • Banjaxed

    Billy P

    ‘…one could envisage these constituencies folding seamlessly into Fine Gael’s right wing’.

    Well, as Ulster’s Finest might say, ‘There’s previous’.

    Both Austin Currie (SDLP) and John Cushnahan (AP) glided seamlessly into the Fine Gael fold several years ago.

    Makes you wonder at times where the centre ground is in the North where both these gentlemen would have been considered left of centre but chose to go into a very right wing party in the South. Then again, when you see how Dawn Purviss and reps from the Marie Curie Centre were treated in a Stormont committee by the SDLP and DUP some time ago, I’ve a feeling Attila the Hun would be classifed as a leftie in this little parish.

  • Buffalobrave

    Mr.Ian Paisley received an honorary doctorate from the Bob Jones University Greenville South Carolina.
    Anyone not familiar with the Bob Jones University will not be surprised to learn that this university did not allow African Americans, Catholics or Jews to enroll.

    Paisley and his honorary doctorate is on a par with my cat.
    As a matter of fact my cat has more honor and dignity than this so called man of God.
    He’s a fake and a hypocrite.

  • fordprefect

    Genesis: In the beginning there was no IRA (after the failure of “Operation Harvest, from 1956-1962), and thus, they dumped or sold their weapons (according to some, to the Free Welsh Army). Verily, the people rejoiced! And Lo, in the early to mid 60′s, a mental case with a big mouth challenged the state of quiet and greatly displeased the Lord. For the Lord wanted peace to reign upon the land called (Ulster, Northern Ireland or the occupied six counties, depending on where you come from). From all this, sprang a group called the “Evil Rights Movement” (according to the mental case with the big mouth). Thenceforth, the mental case with the big mouth, was to be nameth the “Paisley” and he broughteth much discord and pestilence upon the land! The “Evil Rights Movement” were smite on a Sunday and the “Paisley” and his followers rejoiced! The Lord has answered our prayers! The Disciples that followothed the “Paisley” started to doubteth him, and said: “fucketh this for a game of darts, I wish I’d never heard of him”! And so it continueth for 30 years.

    Revelations: The “Paisley’s” flock were horrified to find out that he was always out for himselfeth! They accepteth that and knew the “Chosen One” would lead themeth to the Promised Land! But, mucheth to His flock’s horror, He would have to doeth a dealeth with the much hated Sinneth Feinners! His Flock were devastated when He broke bread with the hated “Beast”, also known as “The Bearded One” at a table that was foretold in the Scriptures as “The Table That Would Be Pointy If It Sat At A Certain Angle”! Worse was to come! He tried to move about his flock with the one that was known as either “The Curly Haired One” or “Art Garfunkel” Even worse, he sateth and chuckledeth with “The Curly Haired One! Now, God has smite Him (and he’s ripping the back out of Peter “the Punt” Robinson, and everyone else he crossed his swordeth witheth!

  • D.A.

    Banjaxed, I’m guessing you meant Stopes rather than Curie. I hope. :-)

  • Banjaxed

    D.A.

    Heh! Ooops, slipsies!
    Apols.

    On second thoughts, let it stand. They probably would have been against a cure for cancer as well, the glypes! ;-)

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Banjaxed[2.24] Well as Father Ted commented on the Nazi priest’s secret room, ‘It’s funny how you get more rightwing as you get older’