Harsh thoughts on Paisley’s 12th July Speech

Both Brian Feeney (subs needed) and Roy Garland have been analysing Ian Paisely’s 12th July speech. Neither is too impressed. Though Garland believes Paisley may do a deal “so long as followers do not believe he is doing so,” Feeney strikes a more pessimistic tone, concluding that, beyond “trading on the fears of gullible people,” the DUP leaders is “devoid of political thought.”

  • pith

    What’s all this about Brian Feeney analysing?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Take it your not a fan, bitter pith???

  • fair_deal

    Just once I’d like to read these two guys and it not follow the same formulaic responses they always give.

  • pith

    ‘fraid not Chris. I find him dull, repetitive and sneering. There are quite a few newspaper columnists whom I am always happy to read. Former provinical politicians don’t rank too high among them and Feeney least of all. I guess it’s just personal taste.

  • RedPaul

    Interesting comment FD and surely a point that could be aptly applied to Paisley.

  • Greenflag

    Don’t know why Feeney or Garland bother ? Paisley’s not worth listening to, much less commenting on . Best ignored . Roll on Nov 25th and let Paisley and his DUP be consigned to political history as a minor party at Westminster. We Irish should have nothing to say to the leader of NI Unionism except bon voyage and let’s hope he receives a warm welcome wherever he’s bound on earth or elsewhere .

  • Chris Donnelly

    RedPaul

    Drat-You just beat me to it!

  • Mick Fealty

    I was interested in this:

    For Paisley “there is no discharge in this war”. What war? The same one in his mind as was in his mind all those years ago. His wild rhetoric caused consternation among those amusingly described by some commentators as the ‘modernisers’ in his party. They are the ones slightly to the right of David Trimble. People speculate whether Paisley’s message on July 12 was to the Irish government, republicans or the modernisers. That’s to give him credit for having a political strategy. The truth is that Paisley at 80 is the same man as Paisley at 40, a politician devoid of political thought who trades on the fears of gullible people.

    I’d be wary of believing that Paisley is the DUP any more than the Army Council is Sinn Fein. Nevertheless, as so often with Feeney’s caustic analysis some of this mud sticks. I wrote a piece on Paisley senior a few years back for the FT. It struck me then that his inheritance was likely to be a failed religious revolution, but a successful political one.

    His success in politics relates to his ceding considerable power to a successful lieutenant, who has shown the party can reach well beyond the party’s ‘fearful’ working class heartland. That transition from the pre-troubles era it seems to me is the significant factor here.

    As for war (by other means) I would agree with Brian that shapes the mindset of the DUP in generality, but it’s not exclusive to them.

  • Fanny

    I do wish people would stop regarding Ian Paisley as some sort of elder statesman, largely in deference to his age and long political career.

    He’s anything but. He was and is a rabble rouser who indirectly has blood on his hands. Without his rabble rousing many hundreds of people would still be alive today and NI would have developed gradually and naturally into a democratic entity. Instead it’s arguably more sectarian than when Paisley began his ranting and the party he leads couldn’t be more sectarian if it tried.

    I hope Mr. Feeney mentioned something along these lines but since I don’t subscribe to the Irish News I’ve no way of knowing.

  • English

    I believe that Ian Paisley is actually insane, what comes out of his mouth is both inflamatory and highly damaging to those wishing for a more modern outlook. The fact that he is the leading politician here makes Northern Ireland a laughing stock in the eyes of the rest of the UK.

  • Henry94

    Paisley’s tragedy is that having finally become the undisputed leader of Unionism it turns out he can’t lead.

  • TAFKABO

    If that were true it would be Northern Irelands tragedy, not Paisleys. I think the jurys still out on the matter.

  • Kenny

    You could have taken a Paisley speech from 1969 and there would be very little difference between that and his 12/7/2006 speech.

    In terms of achievements for the Unionist people, what exactly has Paisley achieved? His entire political strategy is based on saying NO!. There have been massive changes in NI over the last few years and these will continue – what has he done to prepare his followers for this? – Nothing.

    English is absolutely right – I have lived in London for many years and Paisley is regarded as an anachronism and a laughing stock.

    The DUP claim that the UUP oversaw the demise of the RUC + UDR (as if they could have stopped it!).
    They claim that they got more money for RIR redundancies but they didn’t stop it – did they?

    It is true that the DUP have the power to disable a local assembly by refusing to sit in it – but that’s about it.

    The “good old days” where saying NO meant continued direct rule and no “interference” from the Irish govt are over.

    The British govt can’t make them sit in an assembly but they can pretty much do anything else and people in NI are powerless – it’s as simple as that.

    If they don’t sort it out by Nov 24th, the UK + RoI govts will move on without them. Joint Stewardship is a baby step toward Joint Authority – the demographics are moving in 1 direction.

    Obviously, this isn’t an issue for Paisley (let’s face it – his influence is waning and he’s now 80 years old).

    Unionism needs a leader that can recognise the new dynamic and engage in building a better future for all. If they keep following someone whose political strategy is to march into a field and shout “No Surrender” – then the rest of the participants will simply bypass them and move on.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Paisley’s tragedy is that having finally become the undisputed leader of Unionism it turns out he can’t lead. ‘

    He can lead. He has led them around in circles , up and down mountains , in and out of Assemblies, backwards to a sectarian past and now to political isolation.

    He has nothing to offer the Unionist people of Northern Ireland and less than nothing to offer the Irish people of Northern Ireland.

    He’s been a symbol of sectarian division from day one and I believe Northern Ireland would have been a far more settled country without Paisley’s negative influence.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Unionism needs a leader that can recognise the new dynamic and engage in building a better future for all. ‘

    40 years ago would have been good 🙁 Brian Faulkner was about the best they’ve been able to manage and Paisley saw to it that Faulkner was hounded out 🙁

    Who will see Paisley hounded out ?

  • Not much has changed in Paisley Snrs. head since the 1964 election & his campaign to remove the tricolour from the window of the “republican party”* on the Falls road.

    * just as it says in the papers.

  • Rubicon

    Could it be that Paisley was speaking to his own – reminding them that they could trust him whilst also setting out the hard-line that begins his negotiating position?

    If Paisley is what he was when considered the rude and ignorant bully boy expression of unionism his position now would be simple. That he hasn’t said “no!”, taken his toys and run away might just suggest he’s around to do business.

    Returning to Paisley-past can under estimate how a politician changes once they move from the back to the front benches. It can also overlook the personal enmities generated during that transition. It seems clear that the UUP have a considerable foe on their hands who has scores to settle.

    Paisley – like it or not – is the man nationalists have to deal with. Trimble treated his electorate with disdain, he’d no vision, damned the GFA by faint praise and as a so-called academic lawyer he promoted the contamination of politics with issues best left to the courts. Some lawyer! Paisley is no lawyer – but he’s a better politician.

    If Paisley makes a deal he’ll take unionism with him and perhaps this was what he was doing in making that speech. Whatever about SF – he’s not about to let those that exploited and abused him get the chance again.

    For an 80 year old the task may be too much. UUP incompetence is no doubt helping but – if I’m right – Paisley will deal. He needs to before he can hand over the leadership – the leadership of unionism.

  • Fanny

    Kenny:

    “The British govt can’t make them sit in an assembly but they can pretty much do anything else and people in NI are powerless – it’s as simple as that.”

    Paisley is living proof of the old adage: “You can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make him piss in it, unless he wants to.”

  • “a politician devoid of political thought who trades on the fears of gullible people.”

    ….and who has discovered all that is necessary to be wildly successful in electoral politics.

  • páid

    I’ve known a few English people who believe the Doc is mad. He’s not a bit mad.

    He is, like virtually all of us, a product of his upbringing – in his case, the bitter bitter Scottish – Irish fight for the good farming land of east Tyrone set the scene.

    He is a remarkable figure: a leader in any society he would have been born into – but he will leave no great personal legacy IMHO.

    The last of the great Protestant politicians of Europe: they have made their mark in history as a flow of enlightenment and truthfulness.

    But old Father time washes them to the ocean.

  • P O’Neil

    With any luck, British Unionism will die with Paisley, and my his soul never rest in peace.

  • mnob

    I saw this speech as the equivalent of “they havent gone away you know”, but a bit less subtle. Let’s judge – *after* the deal is done.

  • aquifer

    Paisley is a serial political failure. What state is the union in now? His brand of sectarian exclusiveness and street brinkmanship is now quite foreign to British political life, and has complemented both the divisive actions and the analysis of the Provisional irish separatist movement. The English would clearly now ditch him and NI into the Republic if they could.

    He cannot imagine a politically attainable success for himself and his sore supporters. His goal seems to be political martyrdom, or rather marginalisation, and in this he is succeeding handsomely.

    His genius, like successful terrorists, is in the drama of control. His and their success are both a reflection of our own lack of social, ethical, and mental development, and a cause of it.

  • mnob

    Aquifier – you might be surprised the number of Unionists who agree with you – even some who vote DUP (albeit the other bit … you know Robinson et al)

  • spice girl

    i THINK YU’VE ALL BEEN SUCKED in my dear friends. The bid man is trying to squeeze the shinners and the governments as much as poss. if he had rolled back into government last year, we wouldn’t have seen the continued pressue on SF and we wouldn;t have seen the continued ‘good behaviour’ from the ra. Republicans are still under the spotlight, as they know any slips gives Ian the oppertunity to delay devolution.
    The tides are turning and the pressure is now beginning to mount on the DUP. One big deal, whereby they secure republican involvment in policing and they can claim they slayed the Ra.
    Crafty beggers.

  • boshank

    Spice Girl,

    whatever helps you sleep at night babe!

    Yeah the pressure was so serious the RA robbed a bank in the middle of 2004 talks, killed Robert McCartney etc, etc.

    The ‘good behaviour’ i’d imagine is more to do with the increased demilitarisation, the demise of the Royal Irish and a host of other goodies given to them by HMG…so if that’s DUP pressure i can’t see the provos getting the bends anytime soon!!

  • Aislingeach

    The Feeney article is also available on Newhound:
    here

  • Resolve

    I disagree that there is NO strategy behind it, but Feeney has captured the essence of that strategy. It’s leadership (by virtue of him being their leader) but it’s certainly not constructive leadership. The worrying thing is that people STILL listen to him, and swallow his word as ‘gospel truth’… granted, many vote for him for ulterior reasons, e.g. to keep Sinn Fein out, rather than to keep him in…

    However, there comes a stage when moderate Unionists need to challenge the guff that he spews… they don’t seem to have had the courage to do that much in recent times.. in a place as ‘populist’ as this, this refusal to challenge “the Doc” and his views is as detrimental to peace as Paisley is to any peace “settlement”…

    the sad truth about Northern Ireland is that no one else in the political arena (except maybe GA) commands the same level of charisma. Like him or lump him, he can certainly whip up a storm. But it’s a non-sequitur to say that a sensible and peace-loving politician must be quiet and reserved. Why is there no such politician with this sort of Spirit??? Someone needs to shout Paisley down with the same resolve and conviction (and volume lol) that he shouts with… people need to stand up to him… “but how can you stand up to the Doc?”… cowardice 🙁

  • Resolve

    Correction: lump = loath, obviously…

  • Frustrated Democrat

    As an atheist I find it diffucult to fully comprehend, however there is no doubt that evertyhing Ian Paisley does is driven by his extreme evangelical version of protestantism. He belives what he says and it is all driven by his efforts to serve God.

    I do not believe he has any hatred for catholics, in fact he views then as equals in terms of being individuals. However he thinks that the (Roman) Catholic Church is completely irreligious and is a danger to those people who belong to it. His distrust of Southern Ireland was born from the fact that the RC church had a major role in the running of the country and therefore as such is a danger to protestantism.

    When his comments are viewed in this light maybe we can start to understand where he is coming from e.g. he believes the IRA carried on its campaign with the tacit support of sections of the RC church so he does not want anything to do with them. He views Southern Ireland as being run in way which is largely dictated by the RC church so he doesn’t want anything to do with that. In fact he views anything that has an involvement of the RC church as being a danger to protestantism (and also to individual members of the RC church).

    Given that as being his view point it is very difficult to see what accomodation he can possibly reach with Southern Ireland let alone SF.

  • Fanny

    I do wish some people here on Slugger would stop confusing “charisma” and loud-mouthed rabble rousing.

    Paisley is a bully and he’s got where he is (where exactly?) by shouting others down. This sort of rudeness and coarseness doesn’t make of a man a good politician. Since when does the dog that barks loudest make the most sense?

  • Resolve

    And so you are saying that the RCC still has this huge influence in RoI in the 21st Century? Hardly… You may agree with this point, but maybe you should factor it in when proclaiming empathy (if not sympathy) with the man…

    After all, this thread (and Feeney’s article) demonstrates that his views are equally as virulant (and in exactly the same way) today as they were 40 odd years ago… do you understand why this is? can you explain this as rationaal?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Kenny: “You could have taken a Paisley speech from 1969 and there would be very little difference between that and his 12/7/2006 speech. ”

    Alzheimer’s / senile dementia? Can’t remember what was for breakfast, but events forty years old are clear as a bell… its not constant — there are occasional moments of clarity, but otherwise its a guided tour of yesterday.

    When its said he’s living in the past, they may not know how right they are…

  • Greenflag

    ‘Beggars’

    Yes.

    ‘Crafty’

    Perhaps in the realm of 19th century voodoo sectarian/religious politics the DUP may have attained levels or degrees of advanced craftsmanship .

    But in 21st century Ireland and Britain they are an anachcronism . A party of throwbacks with nothing to offer except more ignorance , superstition and intolerance .

  • Resolve

    That last post was directed at “Frustrated Democrat”, in case there is any confusion…

    FAO Fanny…

    With respect, I was simply using the OED definition, as i always do. The word (apart from the ancient Christian notion of charisms) took on its new meaning near the start of the 20th Century… Max Weber, as i am sure you know, described “Charismatic authority”… you may object to me using the term in relation to a “rabble-rouser” (a term, i have noticed, that you are fond of)… i agree that he is one! as is clear from my post… but he is still charismatic (a value-free description).. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary says:

    “A capacity to inspire devotion and enthusiasm”…

    If you disagree that Paisley posesses such a quality, then we disagree… but i suggest that it is you who is using value-judgements, not I…

  • lib2016

    Paisley has never hidden the fact that he had no faith in the Anglo-Irish elite who used to run unionism nor the middleclass unionists who replaced them nor did he ever have confidence in the British government.

    He may well believe that an impoverished ghetto with a large drug problem, like his hometown Ballymena is best for his followers in preference to powersharing and the assimilation of unionists which that will bring if the Southern experience is anything to go by.

  • Resolve

    FAO Fanny…

    And if you think “politics” is all about “making good sense”, i suggest you take the Red Pill… called Reality. Idealism is futile, if not guided by pragmatism…

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Frustrated: “I do not believe he has any hatred for catholics, in fact he views then as equals in terms of being individuals. However he thinks that the (Roman) Catholic Church is completely irreligious and is a danger to those people who belong to it. His distrust of Southern Ireland was born from the fact that the RC church had a major role in the running of the country and therefore as such is a danger to protestantism. ”

    That was his father’s position — Big Ian’s da’ who argued against the institution, but pretty much left individuals out of it. He also lacked Big Ian’s paranoia, which pretty much tracks anything two or more Catholics do back to the Pope in Rome.

    Big Ian is a rabble-rouser, no different than a dozen others, save that he’s cobbled together his own private Church, apparently preferring to follow the advice of L. Ron Hubbard, rather than more overtly political templates.”

    Frustrated: “When his comments are viewed in this light maybe we can start to understand where he is coming from e.g. he believes the IRA carried on its campaign with the tacit support of sections of the RC church so he does not want anything to do with them. He views Southern Ireland as being run in way which is largely dictated by the RC church so he doesn’t want anything to do with that. In fact he views anything that has an involvement of the RC church as being a danger to protestantism (and also to individual members of the RC church). ”

    Like I said — senile dementia and living in the past.

  • Prince Eoghan

    He can lead. He has led them around in circles , up and down mountains , in and out of Assemblies, backwards to a sectarian past and now to political isolation.

    He has nothing to offer the Unionist people of Northern Ireland and less than nothing to offer the Irish people of Northern Ireland.

    He’s been a symbol of sectarian division from day one and I believe Northern Ireland would have been a far more settled country without Paisley’s negative influence.

    Posted by Greenflag on Jul 20, 2006 @ 12:04 AM

    Greenflag. I believe that you capture the essence of just the reasons why he is so attractive to Unionism. A lost and out of date philosophy has nowhere to go, and thus better to go down fighting. BTW, I know that wasn’t the angle you were shooting for.

    I wonder if miss spice actually thinks about the man on the moon when deliberating. And honestly frustrated democrat, you should either get into comedy for money or stop reading the FAIR website. Next you will be telling us that the OO is a goodly organisation that organises church tea’s. And Nationalists and all others who would be offended should just ignore them for a few hours and all would be hunky dory;¬)

    We may have been there, done that.

  • Fanny

    Resolve, I’d say we were both singing from the same hymn sheet were it not that folks might suspect me of being a hymn singer and all that goes with it. I’ll leave that sort of thing to Paisley and his “flock.”

    And yes, I am fond of “rabble rouser”. An old fashioned term that fits Paisley like a tailor-made dog collar.

  • English

    This is an extremely interesting thread, I must say! Despite what people have written here, I, like so many of my countrymen, am still convinced that Ian Paisley is completely and utterly bonkers! The main reason being is because he actually believes in what he says – anyone who believes in such utter nonsense must be mad – either that, ot just plain stupid! However I believe Mr Paisley is not stupid (he bought his doctorate for US dollars), he is just insane and quite possibly dementing.

  • Fanny

    “However I believe Mr Paisley is not stupid (he bought his doctorate for US dollars)”

    Hah, get a grip, English. In April I was offered a doctorate on the Khaosan Road in Bangkok for Thai baht, at about ONE TENTH what Paisley paid for his.

    It was a beauty too, a wonder of calligraphy, despite the misspelling “devinity.” Never mind, few in NI know anything about the Divine and understand even less, so it would pass unnoticed.

    And speaking of Paisley being bonkers, when was insanity ever a hindrance to a cult/church leader?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Resolve

    I was suggesting what I believed Paisley thought, my perception of his views has nothing to do with my own views.

    I have no sympathy with him, I destest what he has done in Northern Ireland. I am merely pointing out what I believe will be the difficulties going forwards for him (and therefore the rest of us)if my rationale is correct, if you chose to call that empathy then so be it.

    As to your question regarding the RC church in Ireland ( all of it) as an atheist I do believe it has too much influence, especially over education which I believe should be secular. To me religion of all kinds is for churches and the people who attend them, the rest of life should not be influenced by religion in any shape or form.

  • Ex UUP

    i love to hear the nazi nationalist squeal when they come across a unionist who wont bow to their demands or threats

  • GrassyNoel

    …and thus, with the last, flailing, desparate swipe of a ‘nazi’ remark, endeth rational discussion. See ya laaa—aayterrr!