From demogogue to ‘chuckle brother’: or how Ian Paisley pulled it off…

Brian Feeney reckons that Ian Paisley’s agreement to step down as moderator at the end of the year was the right thing to do. Despite some highly visible defections and talk of a new Unionist party emerging, there will be no second Ian Paisley to provide the kind of polarising leadership they would need to punch a hole in the new settlement. Alex Kane also believes it will work, but that posterity may not be kind to him:

The problem, of course, is that the Northern Ireland he now leads is, in political terms, the complete opposite of the Northern Ireland he has always claimed to be fighting for. Only he can truly know if the journey from snowballs outside Stormont, to the First Minister’s office inside, has been worth it. He seems to be getting away with it at the moment, but history, I suspect, will be a much more severe judge.

  • merrie

    I agree with Alex Kane that “history…will be a much more severe judge” of Ian Paisley. And also of the people who created Northern Ireland as a political entity.

  • Ahern

    The ‘people who created Northern Ireland’ were . . . the people of Northern Ireland. There wasn’t a conspiracy. It wasn’t the fault of aliens, of ‘the other’, Jews, creatures from Atlantis, or, biggest hiss of all, the English. It was the people of Norn Iron wot done it. And why did they do it? Because when the people who created what has become the Republic of Ireland walked out of the UK, the people of NI decided to stay put it. Rarely has an aspect of C20th European history been more simple and straight forward. Indeed, that’s why, infamously, it’s quite so dreary a story. And while we’re at it, the people of Northern Ireland are today no more likely to walk out of the UK than the people of the Republic are to walk back in. In fact, is anything, the post-Catholic south has had its fundamental, anglophobic under-pinning rather more substantially hollowed out than the Unionist north has had its anti-Gael/anti-Catholic rationale diminished.

  • DK

    Merrie: “And also of the people who created Northern Ireland as a political entity.”

    Presumably you mean prods: Y’know all them that signed the covenant in blood and stuff. Or do you mean the 1916 rebellion people?

    As for Paisley – history will give him 2 lines: “While initially opposing power-sharing in Northern Ireland, Paisley eventually became the leader of the Northern Ireland power-sharing government. He also led a small evangelical church, which declined after his death”

    What will it say for Gerry Adams: “While initially opposing Northern Ireland, Adams eventually joined the Northern Ireland power-sharing government. He also led a small paramilitary group, which declined before his death”

  • I Wonder

    The idea that history will not be kind is pure embittered wishful thinking.

    If the agreement of the DUP and SF is sustained and both parties emerge in due course as more secular, shedding the baggage of their respective pasts (e.g., how many SF MLAs have NO connection whatsoever with violence?) the history of this time will be written against a background of peace and stability which they achieved – and which opponents like Allister, Foster, McCartney, Vance et al deeply resent.

    Now, I ask you, what will history think of those who objected (thankfully, receiving insignificant electoral support) to the first stable and representative government ever enjoyed in this part of the world?

  • Bigger Picture

    I would wait till the year is out before anything is said about Paisley pulling the agrement off- alot of tricky issues ahead

  • quite agree with the sentiments expressed in 4:01
    And would add that whilst a bitter bloodthirsty minority still rant and rave;
    small but significant steps like the one below continue to take root.
    Residential camp to promote peace and reconciliation
    ( see Fermanagh Herald.. link in Nuzhound )
    Blessed are the peacemakers

  • Tiny

    When the history of the troubles and the aftermath are written none of the politicans active at the time will come out of it looking good with the exception of those who tried powersharing in 74 and to a lesser extent those who genuinely tried in 98, as for the DUP and Sinn Fein they will be dammed by history for wasteing time and lives for their own selfish interests, if I was Paisley I would get the ‘book’ out now!

  • “would wait till the year is out before anything is said about Paisley pulling the agrement off- alot of tricky issues ahead”

    Bigger Picture dont you think this deal will stick?

  • páid


    “The ‘people who created Northern Ireland’ were . . . the people of Northern Ireland”

    Nice try.

    Bit like “the man who created Frankenstein was…Frankenstein”

    First fiddle was the Act of Union.

    Second fiddle was Ulster will be right.

    And when there was too many Tims in Ulster, 3 counties were ditched.

    And then, and only then, Ahern, was the fair land of Northern Ireland created.

    The “people of Northern Ireland” came into existence for the first time in the history of the Universe one second after the creation of “Northern Ireland”.

    So they didn’t create Northern Ireland.

    But they will one day destroy it.

  • Norn Iron-an abnormal society-I just viewed a docu on Loyalist recollections of the Hunger Strike.
    David Ervine stated that NI society had never been normal-ever.
    I agree with him.
    Paid the political entity set up on a sectarian head count could never be anything other than abnormal.

  • páid

    I agree Phil.

    I also think that partition was inevitable, from about 1911, as British and Irish Nationalism had become so incompatible by then.

    But I’m not going to let people away with claiming that NI was some sort of democratic entity before the Boundary Commission invented it!

    The South was no democratic idyll either, ach sin scéal eile.

  • dub

    ni was NOT a part of ireland staying put in the uk… it was created ex nihilo by the british govt AGAINST the wishes of ulster unionists who indeed did just want ulster or the greater part of it to stay put as it was in the uk. this did not happen… they got a home rule statelet where the only political dynamic could be commnual warfare.. a statelet cut off from the internal politics of the state which claimed sovereignty over it and yet ruled questions about it out of order in its own sovereign parliament… no unionist ever asked for this or voted for it.. see carson’s bitter comments at the time… so no the “people of northern ireland” did NOT create northern ireland…