Belfast Telegraph

State papers: Paisley accused police of bias over parading and believed civil servants were meeting IRA

Ian Paisley junior left pictured with his father during the Drumcree stand off in 1996. PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/04/98
Ian Paisley junior left pictured with his father during the Drumcree stand off in 1996. PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/04/98
Rev Ian Paisley

By David O'Dornan

Ian Paisley complained that there was prejudice within the RUC over parades, a declassified file has revealed, and he also suspected civil servants were doing secret deals with the IRA.

A letter dated April 2, 1996 from NIO Security Minister Sir John Wheeler detailed a meeting the day before attended by the late DUP leader - later Lord Bannside - and his son Ian Paisley jnr.

It said: "Dr Paisley then, without prompting, moved to the subject of parades. He complained about the prejudice within the RUC, examples of this was that the Chief Constable had met residents of the Garvaghy Road but not the Orangemen and that the Belfast Committee for the Apprentice Boys had been called in by a junior RUC officer, shown a propaganda video which had been made by the Lower Ormeau Concerned Citizens and told that because of the damage which had been done to the RUC last year that they would never be allowed to march on the Ormeau Road again."

It added: "Dr Paisley indicated deep suspicions that civil servants were meeting with PIRA and that one of the things which was being promised was banning Orange parades. The Minister gave an assurance that this was not the case.

"Dr Paisley took on board the Minister's warnings that PIRA/Sinn Fein would attempt to draw Orangemen into conflict and use any excuse they could to go back to violence and said that he would use his influence to 'still people's hearts and minds'.

"Dr Paisley believed that the salvation (which I think means compromise) would be if the police allowed the church parades to go on. Ian Paisley Junior rather unhelpfully intervened to say that the Government and the RUC could not be neutral, they could not attempt to please all sides, they had to make a choice for law and order or for those who disobeyed the law."

The letter said the DUP leader was emphatic there should be no talks with the republican leader of the Lower Ormeau Concerned Citizens, but added that he "surprisingly said that there might be some room for a compromise" over one church parade per year for each of the loyal institutions "although the 12 July parade would have to be allowed as well".

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The letter, signed by civil servant Paul A Johnston on behalf of Sir John, said NIO officials believed it had been a useful discussion that "may have done something to convince Dr Paisley that HMG were concerned that the loyalist institutions were not used as a dupe for PIRA's return to violence in Northern Ireland".

It added: "There was a little bite on suggested compromises and the meeting was conducted in a very friendly manner."

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