Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Paisley tossed

So DUP leader Ian Paisley is to 'step down' from his role as First Minister and leader of his party in May.

I think it's more a case that Paisley has been shafted by his power-mad minions due to the furore last month over his son Ian Jnr (who resigned as a junior minister in the NI Executive following criticism over his links to developer Seymour Sweeney).

Paisley had previously indicated he wanted to stay on for a few more years but those plans have been shelved. Coincidence? I think not. Especially when many in the DUP are said to be concerned at attitudes within the unionist community, many of whom are upset at Paisley's recent pally relationship with the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

I'm not bothered much about Paisley's departure to be honest. What bothers me is the historical revisionism that has been floating around. The idea that he has been a noble crusader for justice, a defiant champion of communities etc.

To me and many Irish nationalists he will be remembered as the man who started a riot in 1964 after he demanded police remove an Irish tricolour from a Sinn Féin office in Belfast, the man who opposed the efforts of NI Prime Minister Terence O'Neill and Taoiseach Sean Lemass to establish a cordial relationship between both sides of the island, the man who was involved in counter-demonstrations against civil rights marchers, the man who accused Pope John Paul II of being the 'Antichrist' during his speech to the European Parliament, the man who helped bring down the Sunningdale Agreement and who opposed the Anglo-Irish agreement and the Good Friday Agreement. Disgraceful activities one and all.

While I acknowledge that he has made a positive contribution towards politics in this island in the past 18 months or so - a contribution I have given him credit for - that doesn't mean we can forget the many blemishes on his character.

The reality is he showed a confrontational and aggressive attitude towards nationalists and the people of the south of Ireland for much of his life, and helped to delay the reunification of this island. For that, I don't believe history will look upon him too kindly.

Paisley yesterday remarked:

"Unionists are no longer protesting against a London/Dublin deal with which we have no truck.

"We are inside the building administering British rule over Northern Ireland."

It is nice spin but little more. In truth he is administering nationalist/unionist rule, has signed up to the concept of North/South cooperation and has accepted Dublin's undisputed right to have a say in the North's affairs - had he not done so we could well have Joint Authority in operation right now.

The agreement he reached with SF was not much different to agreements he bitterly protested against that involved the likes of Brian Faulkner, Margaret Thatcher and David Trimble. The key difference was he was the figure at centre stage.

I regard Paisley as complex personality, with a considerable ego and a very stubborn mindset. I will congratulate him nonetheless on ensuring that his life's legacy will not be simply that of an intransigent bigot whose political vocabulary revolved around the word 'No'.

I wish him well in his retirement and I hope that in his twilight years he lives a long and happy life. Long enough I hope to see the island of Ireland reunified at long last the way it ought to be.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.