Ian Paisley is dead

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Ian Paisley is dead. He was without doubt one of the great figures in Irish politics over the last fifty years and I think he’ll be remembered for two things

The first is that he accepted power-sharing between unionists and republicans and, astonishingly, formed a friendship as First Minister with the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. In so doing he set an example to others in his party – an example sad to say many have chosen to ignore. He may have opted for power-sharing as a better option than the only alternative –  joint authority – but he did accept it and he played his part fully.

The second reason he’ll be remembered – and  I hesitate to say this of a man so recently dead, but if we’re looking at  a life in the round – he was for some forty years a rallying-point for those opposed to civil rights and a rallying-point for those who detested Catholicism.  Older readers may remember the televised debate from the Oxford Union  – this was pre- Troubles – where he  openly mocked Catholic belief in the sacrifice of the Mass. In 1969, in the famous Battle of the Bogside, the beleaguered people of that area referred to the loyalist mobs attacking the area as ‘Paisleyites’ – they drew their inspiration from Mr Paisley.

That said, I’m sure everyone, including myself, would want to extend condolences to his family at the painful loss they are presently bearing:

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam – May he rest in peace.

21 Responses to Ian Paisley is dead

  1. Brian Patterson September 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Sorry, re your last sentence, include me out, Jude.

  2. paddykooldwith thatcher too. September 12, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Hi Jude . The Big Man is already being sanctified on radio as we speak . I’ve no doubt someone will put up a statue or a plaque and Liam Neeson will get his chance to play him in a film now. I remember him in his black pomp with his gang of backwoods pirates blocking the Civil Rights march in Armagh as they waved their sticks and threatened violence. The man who just died was obviously not that same character or else the fire had died down ..Maybe age brought a kind of wisdom. It certainly never passed down to his old party who are discovering too late that the lesson is to bend a little or you’ll eventually break in two.and lose everything.

  3. Anthony Leisegang September 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    I’m glad that, like Marx was not a marxist and Darwin not a Darwinian, Paisley in the end was not a Paisleyite.
    For his soul’s sake and as a reminder to others.

  4. navanman September 12, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Enoch Powell is often quoted as saying all political careers end in failure. I suggest big Ian disproves this and turns it on it head. While people are generous and forgiving as he has only died history shouldn’t be so kind. If he supported the civil rights movement or he supported the Sunningdale agreement things could have been so much better earlier. Did he achieve his goals?

  5. Norma wilson September 12, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Hi Jude,
    Sorry, can’t agree with you, never had any time for Paisley, he was the best recruiting officer the IRA ever had.
    He kept this country back by decades, sorry that I am so sceptical, but that is how I view him.
    He is away now to meet his maker, and yes I don’t think there will ever be any one like him again.
    I thought Martin McGuiness and Eamonn McCann, spoke well about him.
    Norma

  6. William Fay September 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    I do not speak ill of the dead or certainly the recently departed. But the basic fact is Northern Ireland would have been a much better place without him. His hatred and bile of the 60s through to the 90s kept stoking the fires of division and sectarianism. I do believe Terence O’Neill had recognised that change was needed, and that would have happened. The recent interviews with Eamonn Maillie proved he was in total denial, and his conversion was solely self servient, he could not bear to see David Trimble in power and did everything he had to, to become First Minister. The number of deaths indirectly caused by his rhetoric cannot be quantified now, but one can only guess.

  7. Am Ghobsmacht September 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    I can’t say I’ll mourn him, O’Neill losing out to Paisley was perhaps the darkest point of NI’s history, history won’t judge him kindly but yes, sympathies with the family.

    On a lighter note, I received this anecdote from my brother:

    “I’ll never forget that time I was in Belfast with a load of German exchange students from school – the coach dropped us off outside the city hall and Paisley was standing there. One of the teachers said he was a famous politician so they all surrounded him and asked him for his autograph. One of them came away bragging about getting “the president of Ireland’s signature!”. “

  8. Micheal September 13, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Big Ian (as a lot of people fondly call him) turned out to be a peace maker. He still gave Sinn Fein a run for their money even while befriending martin McG and today’s Unionism would do well to take a leaf out of Ian’s book. He is one Unionist I began to look up to and respect which is more than can be said for those Unionists of today.

    He went from the leader of the Vanguard to a person who I feel a lot of Catholics felt they could actually deal with. A big man who will be remembered as a big part of Irish political and cultural history for decades to come if not longer.

    I never thought I’d say it but…..Rest In Peace Ian Paisley!

  9. ANOTHER JUDE September 13, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Had Paislet died in 1974, 1984 or 1994 I would have been delirious. However his relatively recent `conversion` to fair play means I feel a tinge of sadness and nostalgia for a bygone age. A time when you knew he was up to his neck in political violence and double standards. A time when he and his bands of bigots would prowl the six counties looking for trouble. Say what you like about him and you can now he`s dead, the big man could bring out the crowds, he wouldn`t have seen the likes of Frazer and Bryson in his way.If he was involved in the fleg protests the crowds would be ten times the size. I personally think he was blackmailed by MI5 or MI6 or whichever organisation kills people and leaves them inside zipped up duffle bags.

  10. Argenta September 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    It may suit Martin Mc Guinness and his party to describe Paisley as a friend but most people from a Nationalist background would incline towards the comments in your third paragraph.Brian Feeney in today’s Irish News sums it up quite well by describing him as ” the most divisive figure in Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century”.

  11. paul September 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    Sorry, but I can’t lose any sleep over this, as someone commented his conversion was completely self serving. he stirred up a lot of hate and bigotry.and as his end drew near, he tried to make it sound not all that bad. Yes he worked with SF and I will give him his due for that, pity his replacement can’t do more of the same. I thin k “Divisive” is the word that best sums him up. A man of God? Not the God I beleive in. He was invited to R Reagan’s inauguration BTW

  12. Truthrevisionist September 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    The saddest thing about Ian Paisley’s death is that it never happened 88 years ago. It would have most likely prevented the deaths of nearly two and a half thousand souls in this country of ours ,where it seems the collective amnesia of a generation, has proffered an outpouring of respect, for this hatemonger who spouted a toxic poisonous mix of malevolence and mayhem that helped fill graveyards throughout the north.

    Since when did being politically correct about sensitivity in death bar us from telling the truth?

    • William Fay September 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

      I had no time for Paisley, but I think it’s a bit rich to blame him for everything, but I suppose this is SF/IRAs chance to rewrite history as they have been planning, after all it was everyone else’s fault

      • paul September 14, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

        Un like UVF/UDA/DUP who have accepted no blame at alland made no apologies for the outrages they committed. IRA actions such LeMon, Kingsmills among others can nevr be justified. Neither can the actions of the Glennane gang, Billy Wright etc’

  13. ANOTHER JUDE September 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    It is noticeable just how many Catholics are expressing sympathy to Ian Paisley`s family and more or less forgetting his past behaviour. Must have something to do with all that Love Thy Neighbour/Forgive Your Enemies stuff we were taught by our Priests.I have to say I don`t ever remember Big Ian ever expressing forgiveness towards his foes?

  14. Jude Collins September 14, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    THIS IS SHERDY NOT ME? OK? OK.

    Wonder if you’re surprised at the private funeral for Big Ian.
    I’m sure you are aware he was entitled to a state funeral, but he and his family refused it as the First Minister would be the chief ‘mourner’.
    Whereas Marty was about the only politician to be called by the family to the deathbed so the friends could say their last goodbyes.
    It will be interesting to see if Marty is also invited to the strictly family funeral, and whether any former DUP ‘colleagues’ will be there.

  15. Brian Patterson September 15, 2014 at 4:43 am #

    For all his so-called close friendship with M McG he never as much as referred to him by his Christian name, but simply by the epithet “Deputy”. Making clear who was the organ-grinde. If Martin was happy with that perceived status then good luck to them both.

  16. Argenta September 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Another incisive article on Paisley from Tom Kelly in today’s Irish News.His reference to “the overly fulsome and praiseworthy comments of senior politicians and some commentators” certainly strikes a realistic chord!

  17. Jim Lynch September 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    Amazing how unionist politicians can boast of how an old bigot and shxt disturber like Ian Paisley can change and become a man of peace. But on the other hand, Sinn Fein politicians can never change and are no more than “terrorists in government”.

    Paisley was a force for evil and he sent more young men/women to their untimely deaths by his rebel rousing rhetoric.

    Yet we are asked to believe his ‘road to Damascus conversion’ from rabble-rouser to peacemaker was genuine.

    The truth is he was an anti-Catholic bigot and one of the biggest, if not the biggest recruiters, for IRA membership. Anything this man did was self-serving for his political career.

    It is sickening to read/hear how wonderful this old bigot’s life was and how he served the people of the six counties. Selective amnesia by unionists ignores ‘The Third Force’ he so eagerly tried to create.

    Let’s deal with his doctorate;

    “Mr. Ian Paisley received an honorary doctorate from the Bob Jones University Greenville South Carolina. 
Anyone familiar with the Bob Jones University will not be surprised to learn that this university did not allow African Americans, Catholics or Jews to enroll.
    Paisley and his honorary doctorate are on a par with my cat. 
As a matter of fact, my cat has more honor and dignity than this so-called man of God. 
He’s a fake and a hypocrite.”
    (I’m quoting myself from another blog)

    Lord Backside (aka as Big Ian) was certainly no man of God. You can put the term Reverent a million times as a prefix to his name and it will never change that fact.

    If there is a God in heaven( I personally believe there is) and Paisley arrives at the Golden Gates demanding entry into heaven, I hope he hears in a loud and clear voice the words of that God:

    “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.”

    • Jude Collins September 16, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

      Jim – I’d agree with much of what you say but I think your final paragraph is too harsh – really. I know you’re a better person than that.

  18. Jim Lynch September 16, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    Jude I appreciate the respect you show me by elevating me to a level I may not deserve.
    But as for my last statement on the late Mr. Paisley I am only hoping he
    reaps what he sowed here on earth.
    Somewhat callous, maybe, but he has a lot to answer for.
    I guess in a way we will all have to face the same fate.