Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley: Tony Blair was 'a fool' to become a Catholic

By Adrian Rutherford

Ian Paisley told Tony Blair he was "a fool" after the former Prime Minister informed him that he was converting to Catholicism.

Mr Blair announced in 2007 that he was leaving the Anglican Church to become a Catholic.

His wife and children were already Catholic and there had been speculation that he would convert after leaving office that year.

In tonight's BBC interview, Mr Paisley recalls how Mr Blair told him of his plans shortly before he converted.

"I used to meet him in his private room, not so much in his office," Mr Paisley states in the programme.

"He said, 'look, I'm going downstairs now and I'll let you out the back door and you can get away quick'.

"And as we were walking down the stairs he stopped, he looked back at me, and he said, 'Ian, there's something I need to tell you'.

"'When the hands of that clock', and he pointed to a big clock, 'when they come to eight o'clock I will be a Roman Catholic.

"And he said, 'I didn't want you to leave without telling you. I'd rather tell you myself'.

"And I said 'you're a fool', and I walked on."

During the interview, Mr Paisley says he spent "a good deal of time" discussing religion with Mr Blair, whose maternal grandparents came from Co Donegal.

Mr Blair's grandfather, George Corscaden, had been an Orangeman, and was a member of Carricknahorna Loyalist Orange Lodge 147.

Mr Paisley said the former Prime Minister told him his grandmother, Sally, was a strong Paisleyite.

Asked about their religious discussions, he added: "It was matters that were brought up – matters about his grandfather being an Orangeman and his grandmother was a very, very, very strong supporter of mine.

"She said to him, 'You don't do anything on Ian Paisley because it will be very unlucky for you if you do'."

According to Mr Paisley, Mr Blair's grandmother had warned him against Catholicism.


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