Lord Bannside / Ian Paisley (1926-2014)

still from BBC eamonn mallie ian paisley interviewBorn in Armagh in 1926, Ian Paisley grew up in Ballymena.

Religiously he shifted from being an independent baptist preacher to found the Free Presbyterian Church after a Presbyterian church was forbidden to allow him to speak at a meeting in their church hall.

Politically, his journey started by campaigning for a West Belfast Ulster Unionist Party candidate through the National Union of Protestants, activism through Ulster Protestant Action and Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, the Protestant Unionist Party and then forming the DUP in 1971.

  • MP – 1970 to 2010
  • MEP – 1979 to 2004
  • MLA – 1998 – 2011
  • Elevated/ennobled to the House of Lords in 2010.

With a political career dominated by “No”, “Never” and challenging those (including the Pope) with whom he had major moral and political differences, Ian Paisley remarkably ended up saying “Yes” to government with Sinn Fein, becoming one half of the “Chuckle Brothers” along with Martin McGuinness. A skilful parliamentarian, his service to all constituents was often cited in contrast to his public persona. Later the manner of his fall from leadership of the two organisations he was at the heart of forming – the DUP and the Free Presbyterian Church – was remarkable.

His wife, Baroness Paisley released a statement this morning to announce his death:

Although ours is the grand hope of reunion, naturally as a family we are heartbroken … We loved him and he adored us, and our earthly lives are forever changed …

According to Ian’s wishes his funeral will be private and attended only by the immediate family, as will be his burial. As a family we appreciate that there will be an expectation by those who admired him to express their gratitude for his life and their sorrow at his passing. To that end we will in due course publish details of a public memorial service which, will be scheduled later in the year.

According to Ian’s wishes his funeral will be private and attended only by the immediate family, as will be his burial.

A complicated and often divisive figure whose recent televised interviews with Eamonn Mallie (and the DUP and Free Presbyterian reaction) perhaps asked more questions than they answered as we witnessed the Big Man’s lack of self-reflection.

Much will be said and argued about his contribution to Northern Ireland in the weeks and months ahead.

In the meantime, a husband, a father, a preacher and a politician will be mourned. And a huge figure in Northern Ireland politics over the last 45 years will be remembered.

Commenters are reminded to be respectful.

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  • Michael Henry

    The big man is talking to the other big man in Heaven at the minute – that will be some conversation-

    the funeral will be private -( for such a public figure )- but there will be a memorial service later on in the year-

    I can see Martin McGuinness attending but not to sure about Ian’s x DUP colleges who knifed him in the back- Eillen will not forget or forgive them-

  • SDLP supporter

    While ‘De mortuis nil nisi bonum’/Don’t speak ill of the dead’ is probably the best policy, I think Pope Urban V’s enigmatic reaction on hearing of the death of Cardinal Richelieu is appropriate: “If there is a God, he has a lot to answer for. If there is no God he has had a very successful life”.
    Of political reaction. Alasdair McDonnell’s is the most measured response.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Dark day for Nationalists.

  • Jag

    Will we see a remembrance which doesn’t include the words “despite”, “however”, “although” or (in TUV JImbo’s nod) “whatever”?

    A highly unusual character, he was start to end his own man.

    Ar dheis De do raibh a anam

  • Niall Chapman

    To speak ill of the dead, this guys rhetoric was one of the main reasons that the civil rights movement was denounced and derided by the unionist population, and he incited hatred and stirred the pot which allowed the unionist community to think it was acceptable for nationalists to be burned out of their homes in Bombay Street, which directly led to the creation of the P.I.R.A. I do not forget what he did in later years, but N.I. would have been in a much better state if he had not been in it

  • gunterprien

    how so?

  • As per Slugger tradition, commenters are reminded to be respectful while family and friends grieve, and delay their more biting commentary for later on when more substantial posts will inevitably be run. Even, then, commenters should avoid losing the run of themselves and play the ball and not the man. If your comment disappears, you’ll be able to guess why …

  • John Curry

    As an Irish American who has followed NI politics, and therefore the career of Ian Paisley, since 1970, there is no question that Paisley made his mark on Irish history. The best American match for Paisley I can think of is that of former Alabama Governor George Wallace. Throughout the majority of Wallace’s career, he was an unrepentant segregationist who opposed every civil rights bill in the US even after passage. Indeed, for a period of time, he was considered America’s foremost segregationist, despite the passage of national civil rights legislation and the majority support for the same across the country. Unlike Paisley, Wallace was permanently disabled by a failed assassination, which ended his significance as a politician. However, like Paisley, he radically changed his political outlook, embracing civil rights and becoming an advocate for African American equality and communities, in a failed attempt to regain political office in Alabama. Unlike Wallace, Paisley’s transformation was “just in time” in order to not only maintain political relevance but to exploit the move toward GFA to leverage himself into the heights of political power in the NI.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of Niall Chapman here. As the Orange champion of “No”, Paisley gave impetus to the murderers on the loyalist side and was a leader in the efforts to torpedo the Sunningdale Agreement. Indeed, I distinctly remember his speech in 1978 in which he stirred loyalist passions in opposition to conciliatory initiatives by the British Cabinet by proclaiming, “if this is how they will treat us as a majority, think of how they will treat us as a minority!: If there was ever an enemy of peace in NI in the 70’s and 80’s, it was Paisley. Of course, I do have to acknowledge the compliments paid to him by my NI Catholic cousins in Armagh in the mid 1980s, who acknowledged his dutiful provision of constituent services to his Catholic constituents while serving as MP. Yet I also remember his vituperative protest against the British Parliament’s belated honor to Saint Thomas More, which reflected his lifelong contempt for Catholicism. Just like Wallace, there is no question IMO that on balance his anti-Catholic, anti-peace, and anti-nationalist record will outweigh all other aspects of his life’s work.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Many Unionists would argue that Paisley did more to further the Nationalist cause than anyone else.

  • John Curry

    Apologies. Meant to write Antrim instead of Armagh.

  • mytriumph

    The big difference is George Wallace wasn’t given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Meaning no American government gave approval to his life’s work. HMG, on the othe hand, conferred one of its highest honors on him making him Lord Backside. Clearly stating that his kind of politics are considered mainstream.

  • John Curry

    Your observation of the difference is apt, but I essentially referenced it in my post, making note of Wallace’s lack of success in exploiting his late in life conversion as opposed to Paisley’s “just in time” conversion to complete the St. Andrew’s Agreement in ’06 and attain the office of First Minister. Because Wallace’s re-making was local, and not national, and was still born, he failed to achieve any national political honors, except perhaps for the conciliatory obituaries similar to the ones we read of Paisley today. I think Paisley’s ennobling in 2010 was more a function of gratitude for his volte face in 2006 than his prior political record. Had he retired from politics in 2000 and died in 2005, I doubt he would have made the House of Lords in the interim.

  • gunterprien

    The Months mind is over I think.

  • chrisjones2

    Aye it was all his fault

    What will SF now do that the bogey man is dead

  • chrisjones2

    I didnt like his politics or behaviour at all but being

    Being Anti Catholic and anti Nationalist are not cardinal sins to damn a man.

    You didnt like his politics but I am sure he didn’t like your either

  • chrisjones2

    For once I complexly agree.

    I doubt the Mighty Dodds needs to keep a space in the diary

  • Niall Chapman

    Sorry Chris, but that was not what I was saying, it is clear in anyones eyes that his dismissal of the Civil Rights movement (which called for equal voting and housing rights for impoverished people both Unionists and nationalists) as some sort of “Romanist” Republican plot was simply ridiculous and shouldn’t be forgotten, and something he admitted himself, “It wasn’t one man one vote…”

  • chrisjones2

    One point of interest, as an MP Paisley was a superb representative for his constituents no matter who they were. His work on economic development was excellent and I never heard it alleged that in all that he was ever anything but even handed

    Compare an contrast that with the MP in West Belfast who inherited an economic wasteland (largely of his own organisations creation) and left it in much the same condition when he skipped South

  • Niall Chapman

    And to clarify, I’m no proponent of the IRA either

  • chrisjones2

    I agree in part. But as the Civil RIghts Movement developed it wasn’t a Papist plot but it was seized upon by the IRA as a vehicle / excuse

    This was what ‘made’ Paisley in Unionist Circles when he was otherwise despised by the UUP- but which is the chicken and which is the egg. What was it in Unionism for example that didn’t realize that the civil rights issue was an issue for working class loyalist and Catholics?

  • TruthFinder

    Niall and John – your comments only reflect your infantile grasp of Irish history and your inherent sectarian bigotry. Tarry a little longer at Jericho till your beard is grown before attempting to evaluate the life of IRKP! The island of Ireland has had a bloody and turbulent history for centuries. Catholics have been butchering Protestants in successive rebellions and pogroms hundreds of years before Big Ian appeared as wee Ian 88 years ago or stood against the so-called “Civil Rights Movement” of the late 1960s. You can begin by googling the 1798 rebellion and researching the historical archives in Trinity College. There were many Darkley, Teebane, Enniskillen massacres before the twentieth century! Ian Paisley simply reflected the deep sense of foreboding in the hearts of the Protestant Unionist Community as a consequence of that bloody history. He may be the most prominent (and loudest) advocate of that collective psyche but he should not be divorced from it. Paisley’s trenchant criticism of the latent green agenda of the so-called “Civil Rights Movement” does not excuse the sectarian slaughter of the provos that was unleashed for thirty years against the Protestant Community.

    Protestants don’t trust Catholics (and vice versa) in the same way that Serbs don’t trust the Ustase Croats. We have hundreds of years of bloody history to remind us why we don’t. A few fair words by John Hume or Butcher Marty will not undo that. That truth may be unpalatable to many here but it is a reality. Lets hope we can all grow up and learn from the past so that no more bloodshed is spilt on either side.

  • delphindelphin

    So Paisley has shuffled off this mortal
    coil. In this celebrity obsessed world we like to assign great
    importance to individuals, but how much difference did he really
    make? I f one looks at the history of Ulster from say 1641 it is
    sectarian fighting and killing interspersed with periods of relative
    calm. The 20th century was no different.

    The people or class that bear
    responsibility post partition are the ‘big house’ unionists. They had
    the chance to sow the seeds of reconciliation but chose not to.
    Paisley helped destroy what was a corrupt and unsustainable oligarchy
    and only belatedly put something in its place – the current Stormont.
    He could have used his god given gifts of charisma and leadership to
    much better effect.

    The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with
    their bones.

  • Niall Chapman


  • Niall Chapman

    What I wonder is why wasnt there any movement started by the minority in the uniionist community who were also impoverished at that time, were they just happy to live in poverty, in a protestant state for protestant people?

  • al

    Robinson said on the Newsline today that he hadn’t seen Paisley since last September. I doubt they have spoken much if at all since then either.

  • John Curry

    Re “Sectarian Bigotry”, see the following:


    PS, I took your post as a parody. It’s the only way it makes any sense.

  • Zeno1

    The man was a saint. He didn’t preach hatred and he wasn’t directly or indirectly responsible for the death of any innocent people. He didn’t prolong the sectarian hate and murder campaign and he didn’t jump into bed with the IRA at the first opportunity.
    (you can’t delet that one Alan , can you?)

  • submariner

    I see the media are commenting of the life and times of Paisley stating that he has left his mark on this place,he certainly has,it can be seen in every grave yard in Northern Ireland.

  • Ulidian Realist

    Given we now know that the so-called “Civil Rights movement” was founded very intentionally as part of a change in direction to use classic Marxist-style subversion strategy by IRA members in order to intentionally demoralise and destabilise, it is clear that Paisley had a hell of a lot more prescience on the nature of it than the dominant body of Irish Nationalist historians and useful idiot so-called “liberals” who we usually hear from.

    It’s time we had a few more Paisleys to take own to size the establishment in academia, media and the complete nonsense narratives they keep repeating.

  • Ulidian Realist

    It wasn’t merely “seized upon by the IRA”. It is well documented that it was very intentionally founded by leading IRA members. Please read-up on the “Wolfe Tone Societies” for more detail. Something the so-called “historians” have chosen to conveniently ignore.

  • Ulidian Realist

    Because, unlike Fenianism since 1921 and beyond, the Unionist people weren’t trying to stir-up an insurrection against the state. They didn’t need to try and whip up destabilisation and division.

    Such was stirred up through, not merely by using the usual Marxist-Leninist tactics to obtain the revolution towards the holy grail of Pearse and Connollys cult of “Ireland unfree”, but by also employing the newly fashionable Marcusian and other neo-Marxist subversion tactics of the Frankfurt School of psychological manipulation in the 1960s. Tactics that involved using cultural victimhood and nonsense concepts such as “social justice” (“social justice” being a contradiction to the other nonsense concept of “equality” if there ever is one, and one where rights are now for groups and run in contradiction to the Protestant Enlightement thinking where the primacy of any rights was for individuals), “prejudice”, “intolerance” of those who subvert somehow always being a negative, and even more altruistic-sounding language of “equality” (doesn’t exist other than in pure mathematics) and “rights” (nothing about responsibility) for the sole purpose to stir-up revolution. Tactics that many “liberal” useful idiots to this day still don’t understand are designed for nothing other than sabotage and cause nothing other than destruction.

  • carl marks

    Don’t worry Joe, others have filled his shoes and they are coming along nicely,

  • carl marks

    My Sympathy’s to his family.
    He certainly left a legacy, maybe more dignified to wait until after the funeral before giving opinions,

  • Roy Walsh

    Paisley was indeed born in Armagh, McRory St. Just in the shadow of the Catholic cathedral off the Loughall Rd.
    He was responsible for many lost lives here throughout his political career, both those who died and the young people who listened to him, as one former UDA paramilitary I worked with said, following his release from a 14 year sentence for attempted murder, I asked him why he had done it and he replied ‘I listened to Paisley’.
    He did make a volte face in the past decade but this grab for power should not be used to excuse the hatred he spread and the damage this caused through leading men with firearm certificates to Antrim hillsides and uniformed thugs to the Ulster Hall who then felt comfortable inflicting violence upon their neighbours.

  • chrisjones2

    There was …but they all died our rapidly in face of the violence We all circled our wagons

  • Comrade Stalin

    I see several breaches of Alan’s request to be respectful below and I trust someone will be along to deal with this. People rushing in to post negative or hateful comments really should stand back and take a long hard look at themselves and their own bitterness.

    It’s not the time for any kind of political appraisal. My own thoughts are with those of the grieving family who have lost a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and to his friends in the DUP circle to whom he was an inspiration and leader for many years.

    I should also add that I think it is equally disrespectful for people to make out that he was something that he was not. This is sadly quite common when a public figure dies and people scramble to be seen to be following social conventions to say words about someone they did not know or work with, rather than show respect for a grieving family mourning the passing of a loved one.

  • chrisjones2

    I listened to paisley too and it didn’t turn me into a murdering scumbag. Again its very easy to say “big Ian made me do it”

  • Roy Walsh

    To all intents the DUP was such movement. Described by Boat, Paisleys Co founder as being ‘to the left on social issues, to the right on the constitutional issue. Which were of course both abandoned when they came to power sharing but, in the 1970’s, with Twinbrook and Polegate being built to relieve housing shortages in Catholic Belfast Paisley and his party did campaign tirelessly for similar development for working class Protestants such as the Brazil, moving many from inner city communities.
    Subsequently of course the party of Boal/Paisley have sought to cut spending, benefits and services while sharing power with a party constitutionally wed to re-unification of Ireland, how some things change when it suits the emperor

  • Roy Walsh

    Oops, the Braniel

  • Roy Walsh

    Surely it is just the time for ‘political appraisal’ rather than the political re-appraisial which seems to be spilling forth from some, truth rather than lie is what a Christian like Paisley would surely seek.

  • Wait a week – if necessary, say nothing in the meantime.

  • Comrade Stalin

    alan, I think you need to be ruthless with the delete button.

  • Niall Chapman

    the demand for social housing and the right to vote not just if you own property is hardly an insurrection

  • Niall Chapman

    I haven’t read this history where Ivan Cooper and John Hume were IRA conspirators, please direct me to it

  • Comrade Stalin

    don’t feed the troll

  • Comrade Stalin

    UR thinks that the nationalists in NI should simply have been purged. As I replied above – don’t feed the troll.

  • Zig70

    I’ll not be saying anything on the matter for a week then.

  • Niall Chapman


  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Is there any truth in the story that one day when Paisley was giving it all fire & brimstone he mentioned “there will be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth!” to which some one inquired “what if ye don’t have any teeth?”.

    He replied immediately “TEETH WILL BE PROVIDED!!!”

    Urban myth? Some one else?

  • tmitch57

    It is my understanding that George Wallace’s personal political convictions were actually much more moderate than his segregationist persona and that he became a fervent segregationist for opportunistic political reasons. I would suggest that with Paisley it was his conversion to moderation that was opportunistic as it allowed him to fulfill his decades-long ambition of becoming unionist leader of NI.

  • Mister_Joe

    Heard that in the context that it was a joke.

  • Mister_Joe

    Absolutely. Family and friends should be left alone to grieve. He was loved by some.

  • Morpheus

    “Protestants don’t trust Catholics (and vice versa) in the same way that Serbs don’t trust the Ustase Croats.”

    If that is your experience then you have my deepest sympathies and pity but do not for a single minute believe that your experience is representative of everyday life in Northern Ireland. On this miniscule little speck of land Catholics and Protestants get along just fine. Many Catholics have friends, neighbours, family and colleagues who just happen to be born into a different religion and ditto for many Protestants.

  • Comrade Stalin

    TruthFinder’s “truth” is certainly strange. Claiming the 1798 rebellion was an anti-Protestant massacre is particularly interesting given that the rebellion was led by Presbyterians.

  • John Curry

    Comrade, you are almost correct in your short description of 1798. I believe what Truthfinder was alluding to was the ultimate Wexford slaughter of Protestants by local Catholic rebels in 1798. It is a historical fact that it happened, but it is erroneous to conflate that incident into the total meaning of the events surrounding the 1798 Rising. Presbyterians, Republicans, Irish Patriots and others coelesced in 1798 to make a try for Irish independence, one in which the revolutionary leaders agreed would be multi-religious. Truthfinder is wrong to point at Wexford and deny the greater reality, or “truth” of 1798.

  • Ulidian Realist

    Likely Useful Idiots. (though the SDLP were no saints)

    Read-up on the Wolfe Tone Associations and those behind its founding. It had sod all to do with “civil rights” and everything to do with Irish Nationalism.

  • Ulidian Realist

    Yes, a group demanding the extermination of the right to another small people to a homeland (despite having their own just down the road) cannot ever be reasoned with. Their decades of bombing and murder offensive to attempt to enforce that extermination, and current unrepentant electoral support, only reaffirms such a belief to have been correct. The reason we have conflict is because Irish Nationalism has not been discriminated against enough.

  • Ulidian Realist

    … if not a proponent, no doubt an apologist.

  • Niall Chapman
  • Ulidian Realist

    It was a tool for generating destabilisation through identity politics and division. Catholic households already had a greater % allocated social housing, and they were notably silent about the plight of Protestants in Newry etc. Classic Marcusian tactics of the time, designed intentionally to stoke the flames of revolution.

    As for voting, well, same tactic to use to generate protest and uprising. A separate debate to the nuances of voting, but it is not as straightforward as made out. Many today need to read some more Aristotle on the advantages and disadvantages of different systems of rule. Restricting voting to those who have contributed to the system is not a bad idea (and was common across the UK before Labour I think changed it in GB). Ideas like this will become common fashion across the West to re-consider such as bankruptcy ensues in the decades to come. Voting for other people’s money simply is not sustainable.

  • Niall Chapman

    Shouldn’t be feeding the troll but; are you actually arguing against universal suffrage?

    Also this post was about Paisley, who himself said (hypocritically) that it wasn’t right and that “It wasn’t one man one vote”

    And I’m not sure what your argument is regarding: “…tactics of the time, designed intentionally to stoke the flames of revolution….As for voting, well, same tactic to use to generate protest and uprising”
    When change is required in a gerrymandered state that has at its core a “protestant parliament for a protestant people” where a high number of Nationalists get turned away from the workforce as soon as they mention the name of their school, of course you want to generate protest and uprising, more of it is needed in the United Kingdom and 26 counties today.
    In the United Kingdom you have the tories selling off public assets for half the price to their mates who then float it on the stock market and double their money in one day (Royal Mail) they are also piece by piece privatising the NHS.
    As for the 26 counties the ECB has forced the Irish Government to pay off debts that had absolutey nothing to do with the Irish people or even the defunct irish banks

    For some reason it seems you believe that people who have no money or property shouldnt have a vote or protest about not having a say in the states affairs, people pay tax, which means they have property in the state, including the health service and Royal Mail etc, so perhaps you should protest with the rest of us because tories selling our assets without our Permission or without our benefit after the sale of such assets is “simply not sustainable”

  • Guest

    Well, if the IRA had maintained their tactics of going after legitimate targets, B-Specials, British Army, Loyalist Murder gangs, then maybe I would try to justify that organisation, but given the fact that after being goaded into reprisals and they bombed buses bars and killed civilians then then its very difficult, however I’m 24 and have grown up in a time when I could get a job without discrimination, when I could vote without owning property, when I am entitled to protest and demonstrate without having the B-Specials assist a mob in fire bombing my home(Bombay street), then quite possibly the IRA can be justified, since Paisley and his Ilk would not allow for peaceful protests and demonstrations to occur, clearly the IRA pushed the issue forward.
    If only Paisley and those like him werent around maybe Captain O’Neill could have helped to bring the communities together instead of scaremongering and stoking the fires of sectarianism

  • Niall Chapman

    Just thought I’d address this also: “Catholic households already had a greater % allocated social housing” of course they did because social housing is for the most impoverished people in a society