On the subject of Ian Paisley, Lord Bannside

We are in the quiet period, when we speak no ill. At which point something that Natalie Solent first made me aware of:

I have it on good authority that Ian Paisley, who once scornfully called the Catholic Sacrament “a biscuit”, faithfully works to solve the daily problems of his Catholic constituents.

This is something agreed upon by many:

The DUP Policing Board member added that his father maintained warm relations through the years with many of his Roman Catholic constituents in North Antrim and never had a problem shaking any of their hands.

Ian Paisley, who does not speak to Sunday newspapers because of his strict “Never-On-A-Sunday” beliefs, has always claimed that while he is opposed to the Papacy and Roman Catholic doctrine it is his Christian duty to love all, including individual Catholics.

And:

Despite Paisley’s hatred of Rome, many Catholic constituents think he is an effective MP.

Chris McNabb, a reporter on the Ballymena Observer, says: ‘He’s not loved by Catholics, but is respected.’ Two years ago, when parents in the nationalist district of Cushendun fought a proposal to close Culranney Catholic primary school because it had only ten pupils, it was Paisley who petitioned the Department of Education on their behalf. A local Sinn Fein councillor, James McCarry, says: ‘To be honest, he has worked for both sides of the community. When Catholics get jobs, but Protestants won’t work with them, they go to Paisley, and he delivers the goods. That’s quite ironic.’

It puzzles people. Having established his credentials as a bigot by denouncing the Pope, mixed marriages, the allocation of houses to Catholics and the appointment of Catholic teachers to state schools, he is attentive to Catholic constituents who seek his help. The mainly Catholic population of Rathlin Island, off the Antrim coast, owes its wind-powered electricity and improved harbour to his efforts.

And in his obituary:

As an MP at Westminster and Strasbourg, and later as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, he scrupulously served his Catholic constituents as faithfully as his Protestant ones.

In the European Parliament, he cooperated amiably on Northern Ireland matters with his fellow Euro-MP, the nationalist John Hume. “I am anti-Roman Catholic,” he told his supporters, “but God being my judge, I love the poor dupes who are ground down under that system.”

In his Westminster seat he had one of the largest majorities in the entire country, 20,000 or more. I’m just wondering, as I have absolutely no idea, but is that larger or smaller than the protestant majority in that seat?

34 comments on “On the subject of Ian Paisley, Lord Bannside

  1. No idea about your question but all that has been said rings true. I have a good friend who grew up in a staunch republican area at the height of the troubles. He used to tell me about how as a kid he would join the gangs lobbing bricks at British troops. He is a big fan of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

    He surprised me one day when he said how much he respected Ian Paisley and how well he was thought of as an MP in the Catholic community for the reasons outlined above.

  2. And yet a friend of mine who worked in intelligence was convinced (though, to be fair, unable to prove) that he was the guiding brain behind the UVF. He might have mellowed in old age but my goodness he was a nasty, sinister man. He prevented all moves towards reconciliation until he had destroyed all his unionist rivals and then did what he previously fervently opposed. There’s a word for that.

  3. In response to Mr Weetabix, I guess there are two kinds of politicians: those who adopt lying, duplicity, and backstabbing in order to get elected and then once in power settle down to effectively doing the job at hand; and those who adopt lying, duplicity, and backstabbing in order to get elected and then once in power continue in the same manner whilst neglecting to so the basics of what the position entails.

    I wonder which category Obama falls into?

  4. What an odd comparison. Whatever his failures (and I am not a fan) Mr. Obama has not prolonged a defacto civil war or described 40% of the USA population as “breeding like rabbits and spreading like vermin”. I doubt he served 3 months in prison for inciting violence, either. Or identified the addresses of Catholics living in a majority Protestant area so the mob he bussed in could proceed to burn them out.

  5. I knew someone of a Republican bent who lived in Paisley’s electorate. He wouldn’t specify if he voted for him or not, but he did say Paisley’s constituent work was excellent and a lot of Catholics in his area did so vote.

    IP might have been a hate filled bigot. But he was still preferable to the Republicans. Even most of the Nationalists.

  6. Well you certainly wouldn’t have wanted Ian Paisley as MP for Cheltenham but “prolonged a defacto civil war”? Lets be honest for a moment. A curtailed “civil war” thanks to a compliant & reasonable Paisley would have allowed the nationalists to have bombed & murdered their way to a United Ireland. Mainland politicians would have liked nothing better. Paisley didn’t create the Troubles. The Troubles created Paisley. In wars, leaders are extremists because those that aren’t, aren’t around very long. They lose the war or are replaced before they do.

  7. @ Tim
    In the 1950s some Ulster seats had a majority of 40,000
    @ B(n)is
    A lot of people consider that Paisley did a lot for foment the Troubles when Terence O’Neill was working to reconcile the Protestant and Catholic communities.

  8. I hate to get involved in ‘whataboutery’, especially in the context of the dreary steeples, but if Paisley and his ilk hadn’t opposed Sunningdale we could have had the present modus vivendi 35 years earlier. Jaw jaw being better than war war and all that. And perhaps if he hadn’t engaged in burning out Catholics, and if the Unionists in general hadn’t denied public housing & civil service/local govt jobs to Catholics, gerrymandered boundaries and denied one-man-one-vote until the abolition of Stormont in 1972, perhaps the whole PIRA campaign might not have gained the traction it did. When people don’t even get a vote due to spurious property qualifications, and peaceful civil rights marches are beaten up by RUC specials, you should not be surprised when they resort to violence in return. Which does not justify, btw, the murdering campaign by PIRA.

    There were faults on all sides, but let’s not pretend Paisley was “created” by the troubles. He personally was a major contributor to those troubles.

  9. Obama’s crimes far exceed Paisleys.
    Did Paisley:
    Fire drones to kill kids and then boast about it?

    Push through and act that allows him to arrest and “disappear” anyone in the UK with zero process?

    Did Paisley promote half a dozen wars around the world whose present and future death lists will make NI look like a storm in a teacup?.

    And as for Paisley’s bigoted statements–at least he was honest–not a fucking pathological liar who couldn’t be trusted to tell you the time of day.

  10. BniS>

    “Paisley didn’t create the Troubles.”

    Not single-handedly, but yes, he did. Deliberately. He was the worst sort of monster, and despite the attempts to rewrite history, he very clearly did his best – and it was a pretty good best – to stir up violence and racial hatred when he saw that the alternative in Ireland was peaceful cohabitation and equality.

    There is no question whatsoever that without Paisley and a handful of like-minded others, there would have been no Troubles, just a peaceful, equitable, Ireland thirty or forty years earlier than we actually got it.

  11. @ Mr Cereal
    “…if the Unionists in general hadn’t denied public housing & civil service/local govt jobs to Catholics, gerrymandered boundaries and denied one-man-one-vote until the abolition of Stormont in 1972”
    Are you suggesting Paisley was the author of these injustices?
    I’d suggest if Paisley hadn’t opposed Sunningdale etc NI would have got itself another Protestant leader who might have out-Paisleyed Paisley. I’ve never been one for individual men making history. History turns up the men required. When circumstances favour a certain sort of leader, there’s never any shortage of candidates waiting in the wings.

  12. “A curtailed “civil war” thanks to a compliant & reasonable Paisley would have allowed the nationalists to have bombed & murdered their way to a United Ireland. Mainland politicians would have liked nothing better.”

    This would have been most likely – the Ascendancy could have bought off with a few plums but the Protestant workers would have been sold down the river…. and it was the apprentice boys who closed the gates of Derry, not the governor (who later wanted to surrender and then fled).

    The Ulster protestants probably bled more for the Glorious Revolution than any other groups in Britain, and without that revolution we very arguably wouldn’t have had the economic freedoms and institutions that have made us all wealthy.

    Paisley wasn’t going to let them be sold down the river.

  13. @Dave

    ‘to stir up violence and racial hatred”

    Violence maybe (and very arguably) – but racial hatred…? I know Catholics are different, but I didn’t know they are another race.

  14. @bloke not in spain: perhaps you are too young to recall, but the cause of ‘Dr’ (I use the term advisedly since he had as much entitlement to it as Gillian McKeith) Paisley’s “NO, NO, NO, NO!” In the 1960s was the proposal to extend one man one vote to the province. He wasn’t born when the voting system was set up in 1922, so to answer your question, no he wasn’t responsible for those injustices, but by God he was determined to perpetuate them, the wicked old bastard.

    Ulster Unionist devotion to democracy, as we saw over the home rule bill in 1914, has traditionally ceased the moment they are on the losing side.

  15. @ Doug
    Paisley and the IRA fed off each other’s extremism: the more Paisley ranted the more Catholics looked to Sinn Fein rather than the SDLP or the Alliance Party and the more atrocities committed by the Communist-infiltrated Official IRA or the “Provos” (set up by Catholics who couldn’t stand the atheism of the Official IRA) the more Protestants turned to Paisley away from the moderate Ulster Unionists. SoPaisley significantly contributed to the rise in the IRA/Sin Fein and the anti-English racial hatred implied in Sinn Fein’s title “Ourselves Alone” – not quite a direct translation of “Cosa Nostra”, although they did adopt a lot of tactics from Cosa Nostra.

  16. @Mr Cereal
    I’d say Paisley did a remarkably good job of restraining the Unionists from doing what they would have felt entirely justified. Driving the Catholic minority out of the province at gun-point. A somewhat similar fate experienced by Protestants after the Free State. You got your country, now go live in it.
    It could have been a whole lot worse.

  17. @John77

    Sinn Fein (“We Ourselves” is more accurate, apparently) has been around since 1905. I don’t think you hang that, nor the IRA, around Paisley’s neck.

    Can you really have racial hatred of the English by some of their white cousins across the water? I don’t think so. It seems a reach for that victimhood. Anti-English, for sure and to note a long-term historical vicious anti-Irish streak running through English culture doesn’t make it any better.

    There’s a lot you could have disagreed with Paisley about, but blaming him for his opponents’ viciousness is not one of them. Yes, he offered an alternative to the more ‘moderate’ Ulster Unionists, and it was a better alternative for those who voted for him.

    It’s quite possible that his politicking helped prevent the Westminster Politicians, along with their allies in N Ireland, making a convenient deal with the Irish republic. It’s also highly likely that by doing so he helped prevent a true bloodbath – a total nightmare.

    A whole swathe of Protestants would probably have fought that, and fought hard. The ‘Troubles’ would have seemed like a Sunday picnic in comparison.

  18. So bloke-not-in-spain thinks it a fine thing to oppose universal suffrage. It was an eccentric opinion even in the 60s – it’s downright demented to defend that view now.

  19. Mr Cereal
    It’s not whether the absence of universal suffrage was a fine thing or not. That was the situation at the time.To change it required the consent of the parties involved.

    It’s always the clever opinion, when an equatable solution is arrived at, if only the side that compromised later could have compromised earlier, it all could have happened easier.
    Sorry. That’s not how it works. If they compromised earlier, their opponents would have seen further ground for them to compromise on.

  20. bnis says

    “if they compromised earlier, their opponents would have seen further ground for them to compromise on.”

    Yeah, like get your tanks and guns out of my childrens’ face?

  21. “…if the Unionists in general hadn’t denied public housing … to Catholics”: my memory is that someone-or-other report back in the 60s or 70s showed that Roman Catholics got proportionately more housing from Protestant-majority councils than Prods did from RC-majority councils.

  22. @ Doug
    “Can you really have racial hatred of the English by some of their white cousins across the water? I don’t think so”
    Then you cannot believe that Arabs hate Jews, or that the IRA would bomb a Remembrance Day gathering in Omagh or that the Nazis considered the Russians as sub-human and treated them as such or that the Japanese would do the same to the Chinese or that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam got any support outside the Sinhalese Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) or …
    Obviously you choose not to think when the result would displease you

  23. @ Doug
    Try reading what I actually said.
    I did not blame Paisley for the creation of Sinn Fein (which never disputed the standard translation in the 90 years before the Good Friday agreement), but for reviving it when it had faded away to near-irrelevance.

  24. @john77
    There’s a history says Protestants, living in what had become the Free State, were intimidated into leaving in large numbers. Seems a reasonable possibility. Now whether that history’s true’s another thing*. History of that period has a tendency to become rather obscure. It’s remarkable how many Irish have a collective amnesia about their Civil War. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s what the Unionists believe that matters.

    *The History of Ireland should count as one of the greater works of fiction.

  25. @John77

    “Obviously you choose not to think when the result would displease you”

    Don’t know whether you are being obtuse or worse, but my beef is obviously with calling it ‘racial’ hatred. That I find absurd.

    The English and the Irish are not two separate races. Being English is not a separate race from being Irish or French. Unless you define race as the passport you hold, which would certainly be a interesting.

    And well done for bringing the Nazis into this – you win Godwin’s prize.

  26. @John77

    “I did not blame Paisley for the creation of Sinn Fein (which never disputed the standard translation in the 90 years before the Good Friday agreement), but for reviving it when it had faded away to near-irrelevance.’

    What Paisley said revived the Sinn Fein/IRA and their murders? Well, it’s a point of view but isn’t that very similar to the ‘and what did you say that made him/her hit you’ question to a domestic abuse victim?

    The IRA murdered people, they don’t get to use Paisley as an excuse – and their reinvigoration had far more causes than so-called protestant extremism.

  27. Paisley sought to prevent his people being sold down the river by Westminster. It has always been obvious what the London govt. wanted.

    And in fact as soon as it could it did. By this time Paisley had calculate dthat this was the best deal he ws going to get and did his part to make it work.

  28. @ Doug
    Try looking at the IRA murder rate before and after Paisley got involved in politics ” In the mid-late 1960s he led and instigated loyalist opposition to the Catholic civil rights movement in Northern Ireland. This led to the outbreak of the Troubles in the late 1960s; a conflict that would engulf Northern Ireland for the next thirty years.” “As Terence O’Neill promoted industrialisation and modernisation, the Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, was doing similar things in the Republic of Ireland, thus leading to the first real rapprochement between the two jurisdictions since Partition.[7] In January 1965 O’Neill invited the Taoiseach for talks in Belfast. O’Neill met with strong opposition from his own party, having informed very few of the visit, and from Ian Paisley, who rejected any dealings with the Republic. Paisley and his followers threw snowballs at Lemass’ car during the visit. In February,”

  29. @ Bloke in Italy
    If it had not been for Paisley, London would not have been in a position to sell Ulster down the river.

  30. To answer the original question: Yes, it was well known in NI that he served his constituents extremely well. Most of our MPs do, actually. People on the mainland get a false view of NI politics because they think we keep electing extremist nutters. In fact, we elect people with a history of taking their duties to their people seriously — even if some of them are also, at the national level, extremist nutters.

    As for his intransigence, Paisley simply refused to engage in politics with people who were holding guns under the table. That has nothing to do with how relevant or popular or important the IRA may have been, but with what they were. Refusal to talk with the Irish state whose constitution provided the IRA’s legitimacy was arguably fair enough. And lo, once the IRA convincingly put their guns away, he formed a government with them; and, once the Irish state relinquished their extraterritorial claim, he’d talk to them too. One might agree or disagree with his principles, but (a) they were principles and (b) they were the same principles that every civilised state on the planet at least claims to adhere to: no negotiation with terrorists.

    The fact that McGuinness — a man who doesn’t even maintain the risible arms-length “Oh, no, I just happen to know some people” connection to the IRA that Adams does, a man who we know for a fact was an actual IRA gunman — has described Paisley in such glowing terms should tell us all we need to know about the man’s supposed uncompromising hatred.

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