Grilling Ian (or trying to)


Did Ian Paisley say Peter Robinson was “a silly ass”? “I don’t think I used that expression – but it shouldn’t have been done”. Paisley was remembering the famous Clontibret expedition, when some 500 men with Peter at their head visited that southern village and trashed it. Unfortunately Peter was apprehended and ended up having to pay a £17,000 fine.  But Mr Paisley didn’t think the whole thing really matters. “It’s so unimportant. Like a fellah scratching a match, the match burns out and he throws it away”. Eh, Ian?

What about the Good Friday Agreement? It was “the greatest betrayal ever foisted on the unionist people”.

What about his remark when some Royals, including Margaret visited the Pope? He was quoted as saying they were guilty of “spiritual fornication”.  Quite right too,  Paisley told Eamonn Mallie.

And did he say of Catholics “I love the poor dupes who are ground down under that system”?  “I have no apology to make for that.”

And what about all the rioting and bloodshed that followed some of his visits to flash-points, some of his words urging resistance?Well, if people rioted or blood was shed, that was their responsibility, not his.

And when Pope John XXlll died, his comment that “The Romish man of sin is now in Hell”?  “I don’t know if I said that. But anyone not saved by the grace of God is in Hell forever”. Christiano Ronaldo couldn’t have done a neater step-over.

In fact you have to hand it to Paisley. He managed to close his eyes and chuckle when confronted with some of the most anti-Catholic and blood-thirsty of remarks, and somehow make it seem as though they were entirely justified or that they hadn’t been said, all a misquotation.

Usually confronting a person with what they’ve said and done leads to a fuller awareness of guilt. With Paisley his presence made it all seem no responsibility of his, or even what was seen as reprehensible was somehow verging on manly saintliness.

It was all summed up when Mallie quoted several British secretaries of state and their description of Paisley as one who “stirred the pot”, who was “a demagogue and a wrecker”, who was “an oafish bully and a poisonous bigot”.  Paisley laughed. “And they did a lot for Northern Ireland, I suppose. When I hear that I have a chuckle – I didn’t know I was doing so well”.

And didn’t he do well?



13 Responses to Grilling Ian (or trying to)

  1. Seán Ó Maoilmhiadhaigh January 14, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    I sat down and watched it last night, and experienced a curious mix of anger, loading, bemusement, incredulity, and God knows, almost pity. I suppose that on a positive note, at least he admitted that discrimination and gerrymandering did actually occur, and indeed were part of the problem. His constant denials over various quoted comments left me torn between pity and anger, but that’s progress, I suppose. Sadly though, although he was asked a couple of moderately awkward questions, he really was let off the hook. Maybe next week but I doubt it. I’d be curious to know what his extreme unionist fan base of old thought of his pronouncements on discrimination, etc., or did they even watch it?

    Regards from chilly Dublin.

  2. John Patton January 14, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    It was certainly kid glove stuff; possibly out of respect for an old man or more probably that Maillie didn’t want to lose a scoop and terms would most likely have been agreed in advance. Interesting that the Big Fella supported ‘one man, one vote’ and was appalled by the actions of the Army on Bloody Sunday. Views that he never shared with his supporters. What is Gregory to make of it!

  3. paul January 14, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Revisonist history form a so called ‘man of God” . A loud mouthed bully who incited the crowd and then claimed innocence from the results. What about his Third Force or Ulster Resistance or any other of the movements he spurrred on?

  4. Argenta January 14, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I note a comment on a Slugger thread today concerning Paisley and attributed to Martin Mc Guinness
    “He will be fondly remembered—- both North and South”
    Presumably Martin was speaking tongue in cheek !But I suppose the organisation of which Martin was once a member benefited from Paisleys intransigence over the decades!

  5. Paul January 14, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    As I have said to many people down the years had it not been for Pailsey a lot of good people would have lived a long and happy life. Had he not been rabble rousing and so anti catholic and against civil rights we may all have been in a better place long ago. He should be arrested as a war criminal.

  6. Pointis January 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    To be fair I don’t think many people believed that an apology would be forthcoming from someone who still holds dearly some pretty bigoted and distasteful viewpoints about everything Catholic.

    Anyone who has read Andrew Boyd’s book “Holy War in Belfast” will know there was hateful bigotry towards Catholics long before Mr Paisley came to influence.

    Evidence would suggest to me that there are quite a number of well respected unionists who hold similarly bigoted views to Mr Paisley but are wily enough to keep such views to trusted company or the Lodge.

    Not to underestimate the serious harm that he caused to lives here, it could still be argued that Mr Paisley’s path was a more honest one, for he bypassed the more insidious form of sectarianism such as gerrymandering, harassment, excluding Catholics from jobs, housing and influence and instead went straight for the naked, vocal sectarian hatred.

    In this way by his speeches and outbursts he shone a critical spotlight on the machinations which drove the Protestant State and which may have embarrassed the big house unionists but allowed the rest of the world to see what life was really like for Irish Catholics living here.

    • paul January 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

      Well put. I still feel he is getting off lightly. 15th century mentality

      • Ronan Raff January 14, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

        Don’t think Big Ian would take too kindly to the (pre-Reformation) “15th Century mentality” epiphet!

  7. Rachel January 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Find statement by pointis very interesting as alternative view point to what others seem to high light, perhaps getting under the skin of things a little more. Over the years I’ve read many negative statements from both unionist and nationalist sides; however, I’ve also heard positives from unionist and nationalist. Two sides to every coin. The conversion of my Grandmother and a number of her 15 children under his ministry influenced my life for the positive, politics aside.

    • Jude Collins January 14, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

      Hello Rachel – good to hear your thoughts and the sound (so to speak) of your voice. I think the religious and the political are so bound together in Ian Paisley it’s hard to separate them. Anyway, I hope you’re well and thriving – and belated New Year wishes.

  8. chris flynn January 14, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    While visiting friends in ballymeana on the 12th july 1965,i listened to a speech by Mr Paisley,given o the stephs of the town hall.We were sitting in caulfields cafe off the main street when the lambeg drums sounded their rallying call to the orange faithful.At the tender age of 15 yrs. i was told to keep my mouth shut in case someoneheard my accent.W e were treated to a torrent of anti chatolic verbal use as i had never heard before or since decribing the pope as the scarlet whore of rome among other things…..The man was and is a bigot..

  9. ANOTHER JUDE January 14, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    I watched the programme with the same mixture of emotions as others, Paisley is an old man and a good husband and father. However he has to go down as one of the most bigoted people to have drawn breath in the six counties and that is saying something. Paisley was never a leader, he followed the mob and some of his disdain for British politicians had a distinctly `rebel` feel to it. I must have missed the questions about Kincora or Maura Lyons, but maybe Eamonn Mallie will bring these and other subjects up in part two?

  10. pretzellogic January 14, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    When you described Fr Timothy Bartlett’s presence in the front row of a DUP conference as “not very hygienic, granted. Cosy though” and then today quoted Paisley’s “spiritial fornication” remark I thought to myself, well if that’s not kettle calling the pot.