Changed times… to an extent January 20, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.
The advance transcripts from the latest programme on BBC which sees Ian Paisley being interviews by Eamonn Mallie are fascinating. There’s something of a looking glass world to quotes such as the following: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/paisley-heartbroken-over-exit-from-church-1.1661066
In the programme Eamonn Mallie quotes Dr Paisley’s son, the Rev Kyle Paisley, as stating about some of the people who ousted him: “Some of what was said was pure sectarianism and some Protestants only wanted a military defeat of republicans . . .”
Endorsing this account, Dr Paisley said: “There are people and all they wanted was the defeat of the IRA and that was it. And Protestants who were killing and bombing as well and they are forgotten about.”
Sectarianism? Military defeat of the IRA? This language, indeed this very analysis, is a telling indication of how far he some in Unionism have moved from their original comfort zone. Surely, the previous programme indicated that Paisley still held, albeit in softened form, many of the attitudes that were – to put it at its most diplomatic – unhelpful as the years rolled by, but his journey and that of those around him is surely one of significant movement onto difficult, indeed extremely unfamiliar and in a sense hazardous, terrain. So much so that it’s hardly a surprise, although it is a surprise, to read that he is no longer attending the Martyrs Memorial Church because there are those who still oppose his decision to share power with SF.
It also points up how much less far others had to move in Unionism – and further afield – to accommodate the dispensation and power sharing and yet how often they have rhetorically railed against that dispensation.
None of which is to deny agency to Paisley. His personality inflected the conflict, even if it was as much a representation of deeper dynamics as anything else. But while retaining many/most of his beliefs – and there’s a somewhat entertaining anecdote as to how he told Blair in 2007 that he was a ‘fool’ for converting to Catholicism – there is a sense that he was willing to make that accommodation.