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.
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?