Ian Richard Kyle Paisley
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley, Baron Bannside, PC (6 April 1926 – 12 September 2014) was a Unionist politician and Protestant religious leader from Northern Ireland.
He became a Protestant evangelical minister in 1946 and would remain one for the rest of his life. In 1951 he co-founded the fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church and was its leader until 2008. Paisley became known for his fiery speeches and regularly preached and protested against the Catholicism, ecumenism and homosexuality. He gained a large group of followers who were referred to as 'Paisleyites'.
Paisley became involved in Ulster unionist/loyalist politics in the late 1950s. 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. In 1970 he became Member of Parliament for North Antrim and the following year he founded the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which he would lead for almost forty years. In 1979 he became a Member of the European Parliament.
Throughout the Troubles, Paisley was seen as a firebrand and the face of hardline unionism. He opposed all attempts to resolve the conflict through power-sharing between unionists and Irish nationalists/republicans, and all attempts to involve the Republic of Ireland in Northern affairs. His efforts helped bring down the Sunningdale Agreement of 1974 and the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. His attempts to create a paramilitary movement culminated in Ulster Resistance. Paisley and his party also opposed the Northern Ireland peace process and Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
In 2005, Paisley's DUP became the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland, displacing the Ulster Unionists (UUP), who had dominated unionist politics since the 1920s. In 2007, following the St Andrews Agreement, the DUP finally agreed to share power with republican party Sinn Féin. Paisley and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness became First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively in May 2007. He stepped down as First Minister and DUP leader in mid-2008, and left politics in 2011. Paisley was made a life peer in 2010 as Baron Bannside.
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley was born in Armagh, County Armagh and brought up in the town of Ballymena, County Antrim, where his father James Kyle Paisley was an Independent Baptist pastor. His father had served in the Ulster Volunteers under Edward Carson.
Paisley married Eileen Cassells on 13 October 1956. They had five children, three daughters Sharon, Rhonda and Cherith and twin sons, Kyle and Ian. Three of their children followed their father into politics or religion: Kyle is a Free Presbyterian minister; Ian is a DUP MP; and Rhonda, a retired DUP councillor. He had a brother, Harold, who is also an evangelical fundamentalist.
Following rumours and a marked change in his appearance, it was confirmed in July 2004 that Paisley had been undergoing tests for an undisclosed illness and in 2005 Ian Paisley, Jr. confirmed that his father had been gravely ill. Paisley himself later admitted that he had "walked in death's shadow." In February 2012, Paisley was admitted to hospital with heart problems. Jim Flanagan, editor of the Ballymena Guardian, who spoke to close family friends, said that Paisley had been able to communicate "to some degree" with family members. In late December 2013, Paisley was once again taken to hospital for "necessary tests". Ian Paisley, Jr. emphasised that they were routine.
Paisley died in Belfast on 12 September 2014, aged 88. He was survived by his wife, his five children, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His widow said that his funeral would be private.
During his time working on the farm, the young Paisley felt that he received a vocation to enter the Christian ministry. He delivered his first sermon aged 16 in a mission hall in County Tyrone. He undertook theological training at the Barry School of Evangelism (now called the Wales Evangelical School of Theology), and later, for a year, at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Hall in Belfast.
Free Presbyterian Church
In 1951, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland was forbidden by denominational authorities to hold a meeting in their own church hall at which Paisley was to be the speaker. In response, the leaders of that congregation left the PCI and began a new denomination, the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, with Paisley, who was just 25 years old at the time. Paisley soon became the moderator of this denomination and was re-elected every year, except one, for 57 years.
Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church where he preached
The Free Presbyterian Church has a fundamentalist orientation, requiring strict separation from "any church which has departed from the fundamental doctrines of the Word of God." At the time of the 1991 census, the denomination included about 12,000 people, less than 1% of the Northern Ireland population.
Paisley set up his own newspaper in February 1966, the Protestant Telegraph, as a mechanism for further spreading his message. He authored numerous books and pamphlets on religious and political subjects including a commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
Campaign against homosexuality Main article: Save Ulster from Sodomy
Paisley preached against homosexuality and supported laws criminalising it. Intertwining his religious and political views, "Save Ulster from Sodomy" was a campaign launched by Paisley in 1977, in opposition to the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform (Northern Ireland), established in 1974. Paisley's campaign sought to prevent the extension to Northern Ireland of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which had decriminalised homosexual acts between males over 21 years of age in England and Wales. The campaign failed when legislation was passed in 1982 as a result of the previous year's ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Dudgeon v United Kingdom.
Paisley promoted a form of Biblical literalism and Anti-Catholicism, which he describes as "Bible Protestantism". The website of Paisley's public relations arm, the European Institute of Protestant Studies, describes the institute's purpose as to "expound the Bible, expose the Papacy, and to promote, defend and maintain Bible Protestantism in Europe and further afield." Paisley's website describes a number of doctrinal areas in which he believes that the "Roman church" (which he termed Popery) has deviated from the Bible and thus from true Christianity.
In the 1960s, Paisley developed a relationship with the fundamentalist Bob Jones University located in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1966, he received an honorary doctorate of divinity from the institution and subsequently served on its board of trustees. This relationship later led to the establishment of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America in 1977.
In 1988, when Pope John Paul II delivered a speech to the European Parliament, Paisley shouted "I denounce you as the Antichrist!" and held up a red poster reading "Pope John Paul II ANTICHRIST" in black letters. John Paul continued with his address after Paisley was ejected from the hemicycle by fellow MEPs. Some reports claimed that other MEPs, including Otto von Habsburg, assisted in expelling him from the chamber, and that Paisley was booed and struck by other MEPs, who also hurled objects at him, leading to his hospitalisation.
Paisley continued to denounce the Catholic Church and the Pope after the incident. In a television interview for The Unquiet Man, a 2001 documentary on Paisley's life, he expressed his pride at being "the only person to have the courage to denounce the Pope". After the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, Paisley expressed sympathy for Catholics stating "We can understand how Roman Catholics feel at the death of the Pope and we would want in no way to interfere with their expression of sorrow and grief at this time." This was in contrast to Paisley's reaction to the death of Pope John XXIII in June 1963, when Paisley organised protests against the lowering of flags in public buildings after the death of the Pope.
Paisley claimed in an article that the seat no. 666 in the European Parliament is reserved for the Antichrist. Seat no. 666 is, in actual fact, occupied; at present, following the 2014 European parliamentary election, it is the seat of Italian MEP Fulvio Martusciello (EPP).
Paisley and his organisation spoke out against what he saw as blasphemy in popular culture, including criticism of the stage productions Jesus Christ Superstar and Jerry Springer: The Opera, as well as being strongly anti-abortion.
Although at political odds with the Republic of Ireland, Paisley had some religious followers in two counties, County Donegal and County Monaghan. It was specifically in his religious capacity that he first agreed to meet the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. Paisley revised this stance in September 2004, when he agreed to meet Ahern in his political capacity as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. Known for a sense of humour, at an early meeting with Ahern at the Irish embassy in London, Paisley requested breakfast and asked for boiled eggs; when Ahern asked him why he had wanted boiled eggs, Paisley quipped "it would be hard for you to poison them".
Paisley's first political involvement came at the 1950 UK general election, when he campaigned on behalf of the successful Ulster Unionist Party candidate in Belfast West, the Church of Ireland minister James Godfrey MacManaway. Inspired by MacManaway's blend of unionism and Protestantism, Paisley joined independent Unionist MP Norman Porter's National Union of Protestants, but left after Porter refused to join the Free Presbyterians.
Paisley first hit headlines in 1956 when Maura Lyons, a 15-year-old Catholic doubting her faith sought his help and was smuggled illegally to Scotland. Paisley publicly played a tape of her religious conversion but refused to help with the search for her, saying he would rather go to prison.
In 1956, Paisley was one of the founders of Ulster Protestant Action (UPA). Its initial purpose was to organise the defence of Protestant areas against anticipated Irish Republican Army (IRA) activity. It carried out vigilante patrols, made street barricades, and drew up lists of IRA suspects in both Belfast and in rural areas. The UPA was to later become the Protestant Unionist Party in 1966. UPA factory and workplace branches were formed, including one by Paisley in Belfast's Ravenhill area under his direct control. The concern of the UPA increasingly came to focus on the defence of 'Bible Protestantism' and Protestant interests where jobs and housing were concerned. The UPA also campaigned against the allocation of public housing to Catholics. As Paisley came to dominate UPA, he received his first convictions for public order offences. In June 1959, after Paisley addressed a UPA rally on the Shankill Road, some of the crowd attacked Catholic-owned shops and a riot ensued.
During the 1964 UK general election campaign, an Irish republican candidate displayed an Irish tricolour from the window of his office in a republican area of Belfast. Paisley threatened that if the RUC did not remove the tricolour he would lead a march to the office and take it down himself. The Flags and Emblems Act banned the public display of any symbol, with the exception of the Union Jack, that could cause a breach of the peace. In response, armed officers arrived at the building, smashed their way inside and seized the flag. This led to severe rioting between republicans and the RUC. Thirty people, including at least 18 officers, had to be hospitalized. The 'Tricolor riots' were the worst in Belfast since the 1930s.
Opposition to the civil rights movement
In 1964, a peaceful civil rights campaign began in Northern Ireland. The civil rights movement sought to end discrimination against Catholics and those of Catholic background by the Protestant- and Unionist-dominated government of Northern Ireland. Paisley led and instigated loyalist opposition to the civil rights movement over the next few years. He also led opposition against Terence O'Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Although O'Neill was unionist, Paisley and his followers saw him as being too 'soft' on the civil rights movement and opposed his policies of reform and reconciliation.
In April 1966, Paisley and his associate Noel Doherty founded the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC) and its paramilitary wing, the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV). At the time, Irish republicans were marking the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Although the IRA was inactive, loyalists such as Paisley warned that it was about to be revived and launch another campaign against Northern Ireland. At the same time, a loyalist group calling itself the "Ulster Volunteer Force" (UVF) emerged in the Shankill area of Belfast, led by Gusty Spence. Many of its members were also members of the UCDC and UPV, including UCDC secretary and UPV leader Noel Doherty. Paisley publicly thanked the UVF for taking part in a march on 7 April. In May and June, the UVF petrol bombed a number of Catholic homes, schools and businesses. It also shot dead two Catholic civilians as they walked home. These are sometimes seen as the first deaths of the Troubles. Following the killings, the UVF was outlawed and Paisley denied any knowledge of its activities. One of those convicted for the killings said after his arrest "I am terribly sorry I ever heard of that man Paisley or decided to follow him".
Paisley would later establish two other paramilitary groups: Third Force in 1981 and Ulster Resistance in 1986.
On 6 June 1966, Paisley led a march to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church against what he claimed to be its "Romeward trend". The authorities allowed the marchers to go through the Catholic Cromac Square neighbourhood carrying placards with anti-Catholic slogans. Catholic youths attacked the march and clashed with the RUC. Many were injured and cars and businesses were wrecked. Following the riots, Paisley was charged with unlawful assembly and sentenced to three months in prison. The Belfast Telegraph declared that Paisley's organisations "represent a defiance of lawful authority no less serious in essence than that of the IRA". On 22 July 1966, Paisleyites clashed with the RUC outside Crumlin Road Prison, where Paisley was being held. The next day, Protestant mobs several thousand strong "rampaged through the city, smashing windows and trying to damage businesses owned by Catholics". In response, the authorities banned all meetings and marches in Belfast for three months.
Paisley's approach led him in turn to oppose O'Neill's successors as Prime Minister, Major James Chichester-Clark (later Lord Moyola) and Brian Faulkner.
On 30 November 1968, hours before a civil rights march in Armagh, Paisley and Ronald Bunting arrived in the town in a convoy of cars. Men armed with nail-studded cudgels emerged from the cars and took over the town centre to prevent the march. To avoid trouble, the RUC halted the civil rights march, sparking outrage from activists. On 25 March 1969, Paisley and Bunting were jailed for organising the illegal counter demonstration. On 6 May, they were released during a general amnesty for people convicted of political offences.
The civil rights campaign, and attacks on it by loyalists and police, culminated in the August 1969 riots and deployment of British troops. Catholic Irish nationalists clashed with the police and with loyalists, who invaded Catholic neighbourhoods and burned scores of homes and businesses. After the riots, Paisley is reported to have said "Catholic homes caught fire because they were loaded with petrol bombs; Catholic churches were attacked and burned because they were arsenals and priests handed out sub-machine guns to parishioners".
Electoral success and the DUP foundation
Paisley easily retained his seat in every European election until he stood down in 2004, receiving the highest popular vote of any British MEP (although as Northern Ireland uses a different electoral system from Great Britain for European elections, the figures are not strictly comparable).
1973 Sunningdale agreement: opposed
In April 1977, Paisley declared he would retire from politics if a forthcoming United Unionist Action Council general strike was unsuccessful. The strike was seen as a failure by most political and media commentators, however Paisley declared it to be a success and continued his career. In December 1981, the United States State Department revoked his visa, citing his "divisive rhetoric".
1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement: 'Ulster says no'
A rally of protesters, estimated between 100,000 and 200,000 people, met in front of Belfast City Hall after a campaign dubbed after its slogan "Ulster Says No" to protest the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which gave the Republic of Ireland a consultative role in the affairs of Northern Ireland. The rally was addressed by Paisley and then UUP leader James Molyneaux. In his address, Paisley said:
Where do the terrorists operate from? From the Irish Republic! Where do the terrorists return to for sanctuary? To the Irish Republic! And yet Mrs. Thatcher tells us that the Republic must have some say in our Province. We say never, never, never, never!
The demonstration passed off peacefully. On 9 December 1986, Paisley was once again ejected from the European Parliament for continually interrupting a speech by Thatcher.
1995: Drumcree standoff
Paisley was a former member of the Orange Institution. He addressed the annual gathering of the Independent Orange Order every Twelfth of July.
In 1995, Paisley played a part in the Drumcree conflict over marching in Portadown, County Armagh between the Orange Order and local residents of the Garvaghy Road. The march passed off after the decision was made by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to allow it and Paisley ended the march hand in hand with David Trimble who appeared to perform a "Victory Jig". This "Victory Jig" was seen by some as an act of triumphalism.
Opposition to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement
Paisley's DUP was initially involved in the negotiations under former United States Senator George J. Mitchell that led to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The party withdrew in protest when Sinn Féin was allowed to participate after its ceasefire. Paisley and his party opposed the Agreement in the referendum that followed its signing, which saw it approved by over 70% of the voters in Northern Ireland and by over 90% of voters in the Republic of Ireland.
Although Paisley often stressed his loyalty to the Crown, he accused Queen Elizabeth of being Tony Blair's "parrot" when she voiced approval of the Agreement.
As part of the deal, the Republic amended, but did not eliminate, the controversial Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland, which had originally claimed its government's de jure right to govern the whole island of Ireland, including Northern Ireland.
The DUP fought the resulting election to the Northern Ireland Assembly, to which Paisley was elected, while keeping his seats in the Westminster and European parliaments. The DUP took two seats in the multi-party power-sharing executive (Paisley, like the leaders of the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin chose not to become a minister) but those DUP members serving as ministers (Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds) refused to attend meetings of the Executive Committee (cabinet) in protest at Sinn Féin's participation.
Having spent most of his career, as Paisley himself jokingly admitted once, saying 'No', Paisley assumed the chairmanship of the Agriculture committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly created by the Belfast Agreement, where he was praised as an effective, co-ordinating chairman. The Minister for Agriculture, Nationalist SDLP's Bríd Rodgers, remarked that she and Paisley had a "workmanlike" relationship.
2000s: compromise and power Ian Paisley, George W. Bush and Martin McGuinness in December 2007. Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness, and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond in 2008.
At the age of 78, Paisley retired from his European Parliament seat at the 2004 elections and was succeeded by Jim Allister.
Paisley again retained his North Antrim seat in the 2005 UK general election. In 2005, Paisley was made a Privy Counsellor, an appointment traditionally bestowed upon leaders of political parties in the British Parliament. In 2007, aged 81, he became First Minister of Northern Ireland."
In the October 2006 St Andrews Agreement, Paisley and the DUP agreed to new elections, and support for a new executive including Sinn Féin subject to Sinn Féin acceptance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. This reversed decades of Paisley opposition to Sinn Féin such as his comments on 12 July 2006 in Portrush, following Orange Order parades when he said, "[Sinn Fein] are not fit to be in partnership with decent people. They are not fit to be in the government of Northern Ireland and it will be over our dead bodies if they ever get there."
Sinn Féin did endorse the PSNI, and in the subsequent election Paisley and the DUP received an increased share of the vote and increased their assembly seats from 30 to 36. On Monday 26 March 2007, the date of the British Government deadline for devolution or dissolution, Paisley led a DUP delegation to a meeting with a Sinn Féin delegation led by Gerry Adams, which agreed on a DUP proposal that the executive would be established on 8 May.
On 8 May 2007 power was devolved, the Assembly met, and Paisley was elected as First Minister of Northern Ireland with Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness as the deputy First Minister. Speaking at Stormont to an invited international audience he said, "Today at long last we are starting upon the road—I emphasise starting—which I believe will take us to lasting peace in our province." Paisley and McGuinness subsequently established a good working relationship and were dubbed by the Northern Irish media as the "Chuckle Brothers".
Upon the death of Piara Khabra in June 2007, Paisley became the oldest sitting British MP. In September 2007, he confirmed that he would contest North Antrim at the 2010 general election as well as serving the full four years as first minister stating "I might as well make hay while the sun shines."
Following his January 2008 retirement as a religious leader and pressure from party insiders, on 4 March 2008, Paisley announced that he would stand down as DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland in May 2008. On 17 April, Peter Robinson was elected unopposed as leader of the DUP and succeeded Paisley as First Minister at a special sitting of the assembly on 5 June 2008.
In 2007, Paisley was named as "Opposition Parliamentarian of the Year" in the House Magazine Parliamentary Awards and by the Spectator Magazine as "Marathon Man of the Year."
On 2 March 2010, it was announced that Paisley would step down as a member of parliament in the next general election; held on 6 May. His son Ian Paisley, Jr. was elected to succeed him in the seat at the general election on 6 May 2010.
In November 2011, Lord Bannside announced his retirement from the pastorate at his congregation, which he had led for over 60 years. He delivered his final sermon to a packed attendance at the Martyrs' Memorial Hall on 18 December 2011.
Bannside retired from his religious ministry at the age of 85, on 27 January 2012.
On 6 February 2012, Paisley was admitted to Ulster Hospital in Dundonald. According to the BBC, this may have been attributable to cardiovascular problems. In February 2011, he had a pacemaker fitted due to cardiac arrhythmia, during his time in the House of Lords.
In a New York Times obituary upon Paisley's 2014 death, it reported that late in life he had moderated and softened his stances against the Catholics. It was noted, however, that "the legacies of fighting and religious hatreds remained."
On 18 June 2010, Paisley was created a life peer as Baron Bannside, of North Antrim in the County of Antrim, and he was introduced in the House of Lords on 5 July 2010.
Relationship with the nationalist SDLP
From the 1960s, one of his main rivals was civil rights leader and co-founder of the nationalist SDLP, John Hume.
British Government papers released in 2002, show that in 1971 Paisley attempted to reach a compromise with the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). The attempt was made via then British Cabinet Secretary, Sir Burke Trend. The papers show that Paisley had indicated he could "reach an accommodation with leaders of the Catholic minority, which would provide the basis of a new government in Stormont." It appears that the move was rejected once it became clear to the SDLP that the deal would favour the unionist majority. Speaking about the deal in 2002 Paisley said:
“The SDLP did not want to go along the road that we would have wanted them to go. I wouldn't say there were talks, there was an exchange of views between us, but it never got anywhere. We were prepared to try and seek a way whereby we could govern Northern Ireland and that people of both faiths could be happy with the way it was being governed, but it all rested on the key point – the person with power would be the person that the people gave the power.”
Though their parties were often at loggerheads, Hume and Paisley worked jointly on behalf of Northern Ireland in the European Parliament and on occasion worked jointly in the British House of Commons. Hume tells the story of the occasion when he said to Ian Paisley, "Ian, if the word 'no' were to be removed from the English language, you'd be speechless, wouldn't you!" Paisley replied, "No, I wouldn't!"
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