Bring back Paisley?

Thanks to William Crawley for posting
some rare reflections from Ian Paisley at an Out to Lunch interview at Queen’s. which deserve wider circulation. Here is Paisley presenting himself as a loner doing the right thing at St Andrews, in that respect uncannily like Tony Blair whom he appears to distrust here. A whole generation has grown up without any personal knowledge of the other side of a personality who bears so much responsibility for stoking the troubles he eventually deigned to play a part in ending, (D.V) forty weary years on. The light touch interview style rooted in religion and laced with the flattery Paisley treats as his due draws him out well on the safe ground. We don’t get to hear how he felt at being ousted from the leadership of church and state. Paisley reserves some hot breath for Jim Allister but declines to say whether it’ll be he who’ll face him in whatever elections lie ahead. He flatly rules out any idea of a Sinn Fein First Minister. A more forensic treatment stretching back over his whole career would probably come up against the old brick wall. To do Paisley justice, I can’t help feeling that we could do with him on form in the front line today to make a bid to rescue what was to some extent, his personal achievement. Here, he makes it clear he’ll only offer advice to anyone who asks for it. Quotes from the interview below the fold, first from me, then from the transcript selections.Paisley on Paisley

Making the deal.

I always believed there were things you could get republicans to agree with you on.. to abide by the laws….you should not be out to kill policemen, and you should be prepared that if those who engaged in acts of violence repudiated them .. well and good.. we could have agreement. Sinn Fein came and said they were prepared to accept these three things.. on that basis we could have agreement.. I had been saying these things for five years/ I said very good, I’m a Christian, I have to speak the truth. You can rest assured no matter what the opposition – and I’m going to get plenty – I’m going ahead with what I‘ve done..”

On charges of selling out.

We were blamed for selling out.. we sold nobody out… It was a pity that some of my best friends in politics took another view. But the ones that matter most have come round and said, Ian, I apologise for blaming you.. “.

On the chuckle brothers
Why should I run around with a long face when I got what I wanted? No, it didn’t haunt me.. he who laughs last laughs longest.

(Transcript extracts)

[Martin McGuinness] took some risks. For a Sinn Fein leader to call other Republicans traitors when there was the shooting of the two Army men, I mean that was a very tough thing to say..
There were some individual matters that he had, home matters of people being ill and his mother being ill, and we prayed together. Well, I did the praying and he did the listening, but he wanted me to do it… I offered prayer for him, and I think that was the right thing to do, and I don’t care what people say. I hope that I have the same heart that Christ had, a love for others who needed help at times of need.’

I have made no contribution to that [the Robinson affair], and I don’t want to. I feel that that is something that has to be decided by those who are in the government at the moment. I think that you would know what my view is on that, but I don’t need to tell people.’

I think that there needs to be a top minister… we have to have a joint government at the moment. I would hope that we would develop into a full democracy, eventually. It would be a matter for… whoever won the election, but we’re far from that at the moment.’

‘[Jim McAllister is] a disappointment. I expected that he wouldn’t be a help, and he isn’t a help. But the people will put their Xs someday. A great day is coming. We will see then exactly what the people think of him, for it’s what they think of him, and not what I think of him, that matters.’

  • Rory Carr

    “He flatly rules out any idea of a Sinn Fein First Minister.

    So, like most unionist politicians perpetuating a lie to appease and blind their constituency by ignoring the reality that we already have a Sinn Féin First Minister in Martin McGuinness with whom Mr Paisley himself shared such joint office as a co-equal in status and authority.

    But perhaps “perpetuating a lie” is a bit strong and it may be more charitable to assume that at Mr Paisley’s advanced age it is not unknown for the memory to function rather less than perfectly.

  • paul kielty

    I don’t think republicans ‘repudiated’ the armed struggle! A bit silly Mr Paisley. Still playing to the old evangelical wing of unionism. Time is leaving you behind!

  • Stephen Blacker

    Reverend Ian Paisley did the correct thing when he eventually followed the political path to Conflict Transformation which the Progressive Unionist Party strived to achieve since the late 1970’s. The Ulster Unionists grasped that nettle in the late 1990’s but were lambasted by Paisley and his party.

    It was brilliant and amazing to see the change in Paisley when he did the deal in 2008. It was good to see him smile with Martin McGuinness, there was a feel-good feeling in politics at that time and it helped the two main communities see each other as humans and not monsters.

    A Paisley 10 years younger would never have left the First Minister post, wanting him back is asking too much, he is just too old now.

  • Kevsterino

    Ian Paisley is sincere, so that counts for something. I loved the bit in George Mitchell’s book describing the first time he met him. The sheer bombast of the big man leaves an enduring impression. Unfortunately, there was more than one poor bastard who regretted ever listening to him in the first place.

  • Paddy

    Paisley played a central role in fomenting and perpetuating the Troubles; tombstones are his legacy.

  • Stephen Blacker


    History shows that political commentators and historians could argue all day long that you are correct in what you say. The problem is that someone else could say the same thing but put Martin McGuinness in the sentence.

    Where would that get us? It is not easy, especially when people have died, to make peace when conflict has ravaged our land, but we need to accept that people can change their mind-sets so we can hope for the future.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    It does not say a lot for (from a progressive point of view) the current leadership of the DUP when there are calls to bring back an old leadership whose time should be well and truly past.

  • Marcionite

    I admire and respect Paisley’s journey but he didn’t brung his party really with him. Like the wrestler Big Daddy, he wasntcso much of a politician but a force of nature. The trouble with local parties is like they were shoals of minnows led by whales. Now the whales are beaching one by one, we are being foisted with mediocrity

    not a quintessental NI problem though. When Donald Dewer died, how many numpty Labour leaders/FMs passed thru the revolving door until the SNP took over Ditto for Wales

    I can’t see SF collapsing the executive to be honest. A lot of folk outside the forums and news have only a hazy awareness if the PJ standoff. If it collapses there will be a lot “what the f was that about?” being uttered

  • Kevsterino

    I’m curious of opinions among unionists as to the difference they see between the DUP of Paisley and the DUP of Robinson.

    I would be grateful to anyone willing to offer their opinion on the subject.

    I’d offer my own, but to be candid I don’t see much difference.

  • John O’Connell

    I hope that I have the same heart that Christ had, a love for others who needed help at times of need.’

    It was as a St Columb’s College, Derry, student around 1980, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, that I came across what I came to know as “the numbers”. A friend sitting next to me in class before the teacher arrived, showed me an alphabet written out and attached the number six to the letter “A”, the number twelve to the letter “B” and the letters thereafter increasing in steps of six. “Wait till you see this, John,” he said, his voice full of seriousness tinged with a hint of excitement. He then listed out the letters of Ian Paisley’s name and totalled their numerical value up on his calculator. When he had got the total he was looking for, he turned to me and said: “Look, Ian Paisley’s name comes out at 666… He has to be the Antichrist, John.”

    I was immediately interested in this calculation due to my interest in politics. Having checked my friend’s figures, I found myself agreeing with his conclusion, saying that “if it was anybody, it would be Ian Paisley alright”. I didn’t query my friend’s source for this discovery, but since Noel was from another part of town from me, I assumed that he had got it from his friends there. It was based on that assumption that I also concluded that this information was probably common knowledge in some parts.

    Notwithstanding this lack of authoritative confirmation of our feelings on the subject of Ian Paisley, it would not have been too great a leap for us to have believed that he was the Antichrist in those days. Paisley was a kind of bogey man for the Catholic people living in Northern Ireland. He, like many of his co-religionists, was forever insulting the Holy Father in Rome, the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings, as well as Nationalist and Republican politicians. But he stood out from the rest because he professed to be both a politician and a churchman, and because he received massive support within the Unionist community. I think it is fair to say that we considered the content of his many speeches over the years and some of his past actions to be quite distinctly unchristian. The very thought of him teaching Christ’s message would have been enough to turn many of our stomachs, given the way he had behaved towards Catholics over the years.

    Paisley had, of course, a dubious democratic credibility when it came to the use of force for political ends. He seemed forever to be threatening the use of violence in resistance to various measures of the British Government which he regarded as treachery. He also often bayed for the blood of his republican enemies whenever he thought that the security forces were not dealing harshly enough with them, which was contrary to Christ’s teaching on forgiveness and loving your enemy.

    He had close links with the loyalist paramilitaries over the years and played a part in the Ulster Workers Council Strike which brought down the power-sharing government in 1974. Several loyalists paramilitaries have been on record as saying that it was after coming under the influence of Mr Paisley and his hate-filled speeches that they decided to join their violent organisations.

    If Paisley was a help to the recruitment of loyalist paramilitaries, he was also said to be of considerable benefit to the republican paramilitaries. I often heard people call him “the greatest recruiting sergeant the IRA ever had”. It was also said that as a consequence of this factor, the IRA had never attacked him nor were they ever likely to. It certainly seems to me that he was a very safe man in this role as recruiter for both sets of paramilitaries, but of course the same could not be said of the rest of us.

    On the contrary, there was no doubt in many people’s minds, mine included, that Mr Paisley made the political situation far worse and much more volatile. His refusal to accept that change was needed during the civil rights era in the late sixties and early seventies, and his desire to see a return of the Stormont-style government after its collapse in 1972 left the whole of Unionism in great difficulties and frustrated much of the attempts at political change during the years of my youth. Consequently, it would probably be true to say that no politician was more unwelcome in Nationalist districts where change was most sought and most needed.

  • Brian Walker

    Another point in Paisley’s favour is the contrast between his ” let bygones be bygones” approach and the behaviour of some of his rank and file.
    There’s a whole PhD in the history of handshakes here. Peter accepted his first handshake from McGuinness only in extremis last week. In his blog announcing the end of this phase of talks, Gerry Adams gave us this graphic account of some DUP behaviour.

    “For these unionists and even others less hardline shaking hands or passing the time of day is too much. You wouldn’t believe the number of times this Blog has been alone in a lift at Parliament Buildings only for unionists to refuse to enter. Many a time this Blog has been tempted to stay in the lift as it goes up and down several times just to see what would happen!”

    For some people this is conscientious objection; for others, silly bad behaviour. Either way, it’s below the level of basic civility necessary for cooperation in government.

  • Alias

    “For some people this is conscientious objection; for others, silly bad behaviour.”

    Or evidence that some folks attach a higher value to human life than unrepentant, self-serving murderers…

    At any rate, personalities come and go, and the underlying dynamics are not resolved by whether or not some of them get along just spiffingly. It is those underlying dynamics of two nations competing for control of one state that need to be resolved.

    You should also keep in mind that one generation has no moral right to bind another generation, so even if that generation is hoodwinked into renouncing its fundamental national rights, the next generation will reassert those rights.

  • danielmoran

    Brian. You’ll have noted that the worst offender in this is Gregory Campbell, and even other DUP mla’s etc don’t indulge in thissilly bad behaviour towards other elected members whom he depends on to pick up his fat salary. He has neither manners nor breeding.

  • willis

    “For these unionists and even others less hardline shaking hands or passing the time of day is too much. You wouldn’t believe the number of times this Blog has been alone in a lift at Parliament Buildings only for unionists to refuse to enter. Many a time this Blog has been tempted to stay in the lift as it goes up and down several times just to see what would happen!”

    What a bizarre way to refer to yourself. Seriously. What is Gerry’s problem with saying ‘I’?

  • Kevsterino

    Probably a hang over from his writing where he refers to himself as “this writer” and such things.

  • Driftwood

    Chris Hitchens had Adams and Paisley bang to rights..

    nothing has changed.

  • Rory Carr

    Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams make me want to spew.
    By Christopher Hitchens

    To be fair to both Paisley and Adams, Driftwood, Christopher Hitchens is renowned for “wanting to spew”, but this tends to be related to his voluminous intake of liquid in any given day and our leading Ulster figures are unlikely to be the cause.

  • Driftwood

    true enough Rory, but AFAIK he hasn’t incited people to murder or abuse children, unlike the dear leaders mentioned.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    “I hope that I have the same heart that Christ had”

    – if he has, and God exists, I’m buggered, I’m an atheist. Oh well stoke up the red hot pokers….

    God-bothering old bigot, go off and die somewhere….

  • Driftwood

    Oscar, agree.
    The old hypocrite is now so senile, he may actually believe anyone will buy this shite.

    Same with Adams and McGuinness protecting their pedo mates. SF and their church seem cojoined in their paedophile cult.

    But hey ho that’s the way it goes.
    Never understood religion. And the cover it gives to abuse, sure glad we atheists escaped that net.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Shhh. Don’t tell anyone – there are no atheists in Norn Irn.

  • Rory Carr

    I shouldn’t be so smug about you atheists, Driftwood. You are surely not saying that atheists never abuse children or that having a religious faith makes one prone to becoming a child abuser.

    The fact that the British, for example, were murdering imperialist bastards does not automatically give an immunity from such disorder to other nations who are not British, witness the French, the Spanish, the Belgians, the Portugese, the Japanese, the Americans…. I could go on.

  • Comrade Stalin


    Gerry Adams frequently says things on his blog that appear to be completely made-up.