News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

March 11, 2008

Opin: Truth About Paisley Is Not Pleasant Reading

Opin: The Truth About Paisley Does Not Make Pleasant Reading

Sunday, March 09, 2008 By Tom McGurk Sunday Business Post

I suspect that the proverbial visitor from Mars might be
somewhat confused reading last week’s eulogies to Ian
Paisley’s political career.

The political establishments in Dublin, London and Belfast
fell over themselves not to spoil the farewell party with
their effusive tributes. It’s almost as though some
delicate charade has to be kept up until, finally, the
door slams in May on the retirement home in Carrickfergus
and the key is firmly turned. Until then, the ancient and
dangerous elephant is still grinning at us from the corner
of the room. Some have been seeking refuge in speculating
on how history might judge him, which is something I think
we are required to do now, and not at some point in the

The truth of it is that, over the past 40 years, Ian Kyle
Paisley was - more than any other single individual - a
primary cause and hugely responsible for the bloody and
murderous carnage that dominated life in Ireland.

The fact that, in the end, he led what was left of
unionism into a new and historic power-sharing deal with
nationalism was proof, not of his reformation, but of his
sheer political opportunism. Only one so utterly cynical
could continue to insist that what he had done was somehow
profoundly different to what David Trimble or Brian
Faulkner had done before him.

The 2007 St Andrew’s deal is essentially the 1973
Sunningdale Agreement with a few different bells on it,
but we have all had to keep our mouths shut for months
now. A wrong word in the wrong place, and the Big Man
might bolt again across the land of the dreary spires,
scattering courtiers and civil servants before him. The
truth is that the king (or First Minister) has had no
clothes for a long time now, but it suited us all to say

There is a version of our - and his - history which must
not be forgotten, however sentimental the moment might be.
In the beginning, had he not destroyed Terence O’Neill and
those small progressive forces in unionism, the campaign
for full and equal civil rights within the United Kingdom
might not have turned into a bloody war for a united
Ireland. Had he not continuously and outrageously stoked
the fires of sectarianism, there is a real chance that the
events of August 1969 in West Belfast - which largely
created the Provisional IRA - might never have happened.

Had he not undermined unionism from the outside down all
the years, the Sunningdale Agreement could conceivably
have begun a healing process 34 years ago. Above all, he
publicly identified himself with a degree of naked
sectarianism that poisoned society in the North and went a
long way towards creating the physiological context for
the loyalist murder gangs. He never killed or shot anyone,
he may never have behaved illegally, but without the
climate he created in the 1960s and 1970s, could the
Shankill Butchers have felt justified?

In the end, age and ambition got him, shrinking him down
to become one half of the unlikeliest political couple
that the world has ever seen. Down the years, when the IRA
seemed to be running out of options, there was always
Paisley to rescue them with his bully-boy political
antics. And ironically, at the end of 30 years of war and
with republicans desperate to deliver some sort of result,
there was Paisley to rescue them yet again by propping up
a localised and devolved regional assembly.

Even now, one cannot see him in the mind’s eye without
speculating on what might have been, and what might not.
Perhaps, down the years, he has succeeded even in blinding
himself to the enormous damage he did to the province that
he claims to have loved so much. And as he forever extols
the pain and loss of those who died around him, does he
ever for a moment consider who made the stones for the

Nor might his ghost be vanquished yet. I suspect that
those who look forward to a flawless succession and power-
sharing business as usual might be in for a few surprises.
I believe that the DUP post Paisley will be an entirely
different political entity with an entirely different
political dynamic - and, sooner or later, that may affect

Jim Allister and his nascent Traditional Unionist Voice
have only Paisley’s example to begin the now-familiar
process of undermining the new unionist establishment
created by the DUP.

They will, of course, copy the master by raising fears and
playing on prejudices and seeking to undermine any
unionist who attempts to treat any nationalist as an
equal. They are opposed to mandatory coalition, which is
merely another way of saying that they are opposed to
powersharing. And they are spouting some guff about
getting rid of the IRA’s Army Council.

Will some class of new Paisley come among us? Allister is
limited enough material to begin with, but he knows all
the old sell-out tunes. He’s dull and stolid, but
apparently he’s already mischief-making on the DUP
backbenches. Papa Doc and Baby Doc made enemies both in
terms of putting Sinn Fein in government and then by not
putting certain people in ministerial posts - and now
these people are circling. For example, the recent inside
information fed to the press about the methods employed by
the Paisley and Robinson families seemingly to employ
relatives on HMG’s payroll came from within the DUP

Now, as the old man limps off into the sunset, he leaves
behind, not a political party with ideological positions
and with tried and tested political structures, but a
political cabal forced together by various events - and
one that, I suspect, only he could ever hold together.

It remains to be seen if Paisleyism can survive without
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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