Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley - as ever, a mass of contradictions

By Rebecca Black

Who is the real Ian Paisley?

From 'Dr No' to one half of Stormont's 'Chuckle Brothers', from firebrand fundamentalist to peacemaker, Ian Paisley appeared to undergo a Damascus-style conversion in recent years.

But in the most in-depth television interview he has ever given, Eamonn Mallie has uncovered a man of extraordinary contradictions.

His programme reawakens ghosts of Northern Ireland's Troubles and makes for uncomfortable viewing – IRA atrocities and mass unionist demonstrations, including the Ulster Workers' Council Strike which brought Northern Ireland to a standstill.

Rising as the biggest ghost of our past, Paisley – now Lord Bannside – reveals how he sympathised with the aims of the civil rights movement, but then says no respectable Protestant could have supported it.

Just a few years after forming a close bond with former IRA man Martin McGuinness, he still backs Protestants defending themselves by force against the IRA, and goes on to make wild accusations against the Irish government, including blaming them for the UVF slaughter of 33 innocent people – including an unborn baby – in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974.

And he also stands over claims that the IRA was the armed wing of the Catholic Church.

Has Ian Paisley mellowed in his later years? Never, Never, never, never ... Paisley: Government provoked bombs

 

As for 'love thy neighbour', the former DUP leader seems to want to settle scores with his successor and long-term political ally Peter Robinson, slapping him down for his infamous attempt to invade the Co Monaghan village of Clontibret in 1986.

Never one to mince his words, programme one starts off with Lord Bannside ominously referring to the Scripture warning that "so-called friends are probably secret enemies".

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