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Paisley should have stayed out of politics

When I went to Queen's University in the late Sixties, I realised I was living in a country with a small unionist elite who seemed to run Northern Ireland as their own estate – which was appropriate as they all seemed to be farmers from Fermanagh.

Below that there was a small mixed middle class and a large Protestant and Catholic working class, the latter effectively controlled by the "elite" with the use of the green or orange card. It was a country ripe for change.

Then along came Paisley, a great orator who roused the rabble but also created a fertile ground on which the IRA could grow and wage a terrorist war.

On leaving Queen's, I joined the Army and did my bit to stop what I saw as a civil war. All along the way Paisley was fanning the flames with his fundamental brand of religion and unionism. However, that did not give Martin McGuinness and his band of armed thugs the right to kill and maim their fellow countrymen. With maturity, Paisley and McGuinness finally realised that we could not keep this madness up. I'm glad they did so.

I do think that if Mr Paisley had only kept to teaching the Bible and left politics to politicians, our Troubles would never have happened – and this from a Protestant, a unionist and an ex-British soldier from north Belfast.


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