Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

In his own words... Ian Paisley on key political moments, the Catholic Church and throwing snowballs at Jack Lynch

Irish President Michael D Higgins (left) shares a joke with Ian Paisley during a reception at Belfast City Hall last year
Irish President Michael D Higgins (left) shares a joke with Ian Paisley during a reception at Belfast City Hall last year

On Peter Robinson's invasion of Clontibret in 1986 to expose lack of security on the border: "I think he thought that was going to be a tremendous uprising, but that didn't happen. That's the thing he has to bear, he did it and he must take account for it. It is so unimportant in the light of what was happening here. It was only like a fella scratching a match, and the match burns out and he throws it away."

On Dublin/Monaghan bombings: "I was shocked, very much shocked that there was anyone going to be hurt in that way, but who brought that on them? Themselves, their own political leaders whom they had endorsed, in their attitude to Northern Ireland. And at that time the attitude to Northern Ireland of the southern government was ridiculous. I said I had nothing to do with it and I denounced the people who did it. What more could I do? I took my stand, I denounced what was wrong, but I could not say to the people just sit down and let them put a rope round your neck."

On the Anglo-Irish Agreement: "It was a surrender document, and even very mild unionists would admit that. It did unite the unionist people, for the first time I could sit in company with Ulster Unionists who saw the same way as I was seeing."

On saying the IRA were the armed wing of the Catholic Church: "Well that's true, it stands true in history. They have been, the people of the church of Rome used to further their interests."

Throwing snowballs at Taoiseach Jack Lynch in 1967: "There was a time no unionist would have been invited to Dublin, and no Shinners or others would be invited from Dublin to here."

Attitude now to his comment in 1963 when Pope John XXIII died that "The Romish man of sin is now in hell": "I don't know whether I said that or not. I think people make up things and put that into my mouth. I think that anyone who is not saved by the grace of God will be lost in Hell forever."

On his father almost being killed by republicans: "After my birth he was out visiting one night and came upon 50 men, all armed at the roadside, and they pulled him out of the car and put him up against the wall and were going to shoot him. They were gunmen who wanted a united Ireland. Then a man came in and said 'how dare you touch this man, his wife has just had their second child and it would be very unlucky to us if we did this'. So they decided to let him go if he never would mention what he had seen."

Not ashamed to be Irish: "I don't need to define myself. I am not ashamed to be called an Irish man. I was down recently in Dublin and was entertained by the President, taken in and treated like a buddy." Mr Mallie challenged was there not a time when that would have been called "taking the soup", Paisley chuckled and said: "Well it could be, but if the soup was good, why not take it, as a Ballymena man, if you are getting it for nothing."

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