“He then lapsed into petulant silence, refusing to speak during the rest of the plane journey”

Great piece from the Irish Times archives today on Ian Paisley circa 1980…

Secretary of State, Humphrey Atkins, found a most reasonable politician in the DUP leader during the recent constitutional talks. This helped arguments in London that Paisley should be thought of seriously as a future prime minister at Stormont. Then the DUP leader had himself arrested outside Armagh Cathedral on the visit of Mr Haughey . The “street demagogue” reappeared.

A day or two later, the Official Unionist leader, Jim Molyneaux, met Atkins in the lobby of the House of Commons. “What do you think of Ian Paisley today? asked Molyneaux. “That bloody man, that bloody man!” Atkins cried, raising his hands in despair.

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  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Nice story, brings out the complicated and frequently annoying bloke Paisley is. Though perhaps Atkins shouldn’t have been so vexed – protesting at Charlie Haughey was one of the more reasonable things Paisley did. I’d have joined him myself had I not been 10 at the time.

  • Bulmer

    In the 1980s I once had an opportunity to push Big Ian off the plane at Heathrow. The plane was late and as he was going to the EU parliament on some important vote, BA had arranged for a car to pick him up and get him on the outgoing plane.

    The plane’s door opened and there he was standing at the open entrance before me with no steps underneath, just hard concrete…there was a bag carrier with him but he was trying to chat up a stewardess.

    So here’s the moral dilemma. Do you give the big man a push and
    a) hope he goes down head first
    b) hope you land on him and bounce
    c) spend 20 years in jail as a result
    but
    d) maybe change history

    or
    e) don’t on the basis that you don’t like his views but it does represent a lot of people and there is that nagging doubt that underneath it all he’ll do some deal.

    Clearly e) occurred in more ways than one. Was there really anyone else who could have brought the Troubles to an end on the loyalist side?

  • Tochais Síoraí

    With all the hot air inside him he’d probably have floated down.

  • HeartoftheEmpire

    He hasn’t gone away you know – he and Eileen are watching you from the House of Lords! The ‘furry faces’ would still be running about if ‘The Doc’ had not done the deal. History will be kinder to him – much more than some of the clowns who go on the site….

  • An Phoblacht Abu

    History i dont think will be too kind to him, history may well put the blame for lighting the spark that exploded into violence

  • joeCanuck

    Totally agree with that. One good decision at the very end of his career will not he able to erase the terrible irresponsibilty and hate speeches of the preceding half a century. History will not be in the least kind.l