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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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26 minutes reading time (5298 words)

Ian Paisley: The Voice of Unionism

Ian-Paisley

During these awful and bleak times, I felt it would be the perfect opportunity to take a closer look to the careers of some political giants who don't get the recognition or remembrance they deserve. One of my greatest interests is political history and every Friday I shall publish an article outlining the career and some interesting facts about some political heroes who are unfortunately no longer with us. Last week I documented the remarkable life and career of Sir Ian MacGregor, the former boss of British Steel and then Chairman of the National Coal Board during the miners' strikes.

This week's historical piece, and somewhat of a biography is of one of the staunchest Unionists and British patriots who graced the world of politics, he was a controversial, outspoken Christian preacher who founded his own Party in the 1970s, this is of course the life of the Reverend Ian Paisley.


Ian Richard Kyle Paisley was born on 6th April 1926 in Armagh, Northern Ireland to a Scottish mother and an Irish father; it was his father that would pave the way for Paisley's often controversial career, James Paisley was a maverick Independent Baptist minister and preacher and pastor had served in Edward Carson's Ulster Volunteers, founded in 1912 to combat Irish republicanism.He would follow in his father's footsteps to become a Christian minister and would deliver his first sermon at a mission in County Tyrone at the age of just 16, he would take theological training at Barry School of Evangelism in Wales before returning to Ulster to further his studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Hall in Belfast. Ordained by his father, Paisley would go on to cofound his own church, the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster at the age of just 25. Paisley would be elected Moderator (Leader) of the Church in 1951 and would subsequently be re-elected each year for the next 57 until 2008 when he stepped down from most public duties. His religious beliefs were strongly evangelical and promoted Bible literalism and anti-Catholicism to the point where he would even denounce Catholicism publicly.


In 1949, Paisley formed a Northern Irish branch of the National Union of Protestants, it was here where he first got involved with politics, supporting the Ulster Unionist Party and other Unionist politicians. The NUP was led in the UK mainland by his uncle, William St Clair Taylor, he however became Treasurer of the group which was led by Independent Unionist MP, Norman Porter who represented Belfast Clifton constituency and who was part of the Orange Order. Paisley would resign as both Treasurer and then as a member when Porter refused to join his church which he had set up in 1951.


Paisley's first political engagements would start around the same time as he set up his church in Ulster, his first act of campaigning was in the 1950 general election, for the Ulster Unionist candidate, James Godfrey MacManaway who served as a minister in the Protestant Church of Ireland. The UUP were successful in their campaign in the Belfast West constituency, taking the seat from Irish Labour MP Jack Beattie, the seat would later become the parliamentary seat (not taken) by Sinn Fein leader and arch enemy of Paisley, the IRA commander, Gerry Adams. MacManaway would be the first priest to sit in the House for over a century and a half, the Home Secretary of the day James Chuter Ede was unsure on the law regarding priests taking roles in politics and referred the matter to the Privy Council's Judicial Committee who ruled against the Belfast West MP. Subsequently, he was removed from Parliament and the seat went to a by-election which was held by the UUP's candidate Thomas Teevan; however, he would lose that seat in the following 1951 general election to Beattie again.


It was then in the 1964 general election when Paisley made major headlines in the Northern Ireland political world, he vowed that if Irish Republican candidate, Billy McMillen, didn't remove the Irish tricolour flag from the window of his Falls Road office in the Belfast West constituency, he would organise a civil uprising of loyalists in the Ulster Protestant Action, which he had help set up little under a decade earlier. Paisley said if the Royal Ulster Constabulary didn't take it down then he would go there and do so himself, the flying of the tricolour had been outlawed under the Flags and Emblems Act, passed by the Parliament in Northern Ireland back in 1954 – the measure was brought in to try and curb the tensions between the predominantly unionist Protestants and predominantly republican Catholics. The RUC did show up the next day, heavily armed and riots ensued in the west end of Belfast, between loyalists and republicans and this was one of the earliest motions of what would be known as The Troubles which began around five years later, officially.


In the 1960s, Paisley developed a close relationship with the deeply religious non-denominational evangelical Bob Jones University in South Carolina, on the USA's so-called Bible belt; from there he would receive an honourary doctorate in divinity in 1966. Paisley would help set up the North American Free Presbyterian Church in 1977 with the Bob Jones University.


Although every step of Paisley's life and career cannot be detailed in full, due to the shear length and time it would take, a brief glance of the late 1960s would see the Protestant minister rise up the ranks of unionism and loyalism in Ulster, during this time he would cofound the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee with Noel Doherty and its parliamentary wing the Ulster Protestant Volunteers. The UPV were named in honour of Edward Carson's 1912 set up regiment, the Ulster Volunteers, Carson was a hero of Unionism as a whole and in particular of Rev. Paisley; the UPV would however proceed in bombing key electricity outlets and waterways, however, Paisley denied he was even involved in the 1969 campaign, stating clearly how he had little control in the UPV and members acted as individuals and he didn't support them in any way. As well as founding the UCDC and UPV, Paisley would be a regular public speaker at loyalist rallies, all whilst remaining as a devout minister and leader of his congregation in Armagh.


In 1969, tensions came to a climax when the RUC called on support from the British Army to help control the now regular uprisings in Ulster, the Catholic community felt under attack from loyalists and the Unionists and loyalist felt that Prime Minister Terence O'Neill, a UUP politician, wasn't doing enough and was weak. Nobody was a greater critic, from the unionist community, than Ian Paisley, he lambasted O'Neill's lack of action and demanded his resignation, under pressure he did resign in 1969 on 28th April, he was succeeded by the man whom Paisley supported, James Chichester-Clark rather than Brian Faulkner, there was only one vote in it in the UUP leadership election. Chichester-Clark's premiership as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland would be subject to internal struggles in the Unionist camp, especially after the Hunt Report, commissioned by the Ministry of Defence advised the disbandment of the Ulster B Specials, the regiment seen as highly prestigious and effective by loyalists, the PM accepted this and this caused a significant amount of discontent within his own camp. In August 1970, Chichester-Clark suffered another setback when Terence O'Neill, his predecessor, resigned his House of Commons seat along with fellow UUP MP Richard Ferguson; the recently established Protestant Unionist Party led by Ian Paisley would win both 1970 by-elections in Bannside where Paisley would take O'Neill's old seat and Ferguson was succeeded in Antrim South by the PUP's deputy leader William Beattie. There would be a general election just months later where on the British mainland, Edward Heath's Conservatives would defeat Harold Wilson, preventing Labour's third term in Office, however, things got worse in Norther Ireland for Chichester-Clark as he would lose three seats at the general election, leaving the UUP with just eight parliamentary seats – the PUP would only win one seat and that was Antrim North, won by its leader Dr Ian Paisley, the seat he would hold until he stepped down in 2010 and his son, Ian Paisley Jr. would take over.


Things went from bad to worse for the Northern Irish PM, nationalist parties held four of the seats in the House of Commons and were on the rise in Stormont, the Unity Party gained two seats, grasping an astounding 15pc of the vote, the Republican Labour Party would also hold their seat. Paisley saw this as a chance to increase the pressure on the increasingly powerless Chichester-Clark who was losing support from within and from the Unionist communities across the region, James Callaghan, the Home Secretary had been forcing his hand on many issues, including the disbanding of the B Specials. Chichester-Clark hoped Mr Heath and the new Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling, would increase his power over Northern Irish affairs, allowing him to regain Unionist support, but strikes on the mainland and an unhealthy amount of U-turns on public policy by the UK government, Heath struggled to do anything noteworthy on Northern Irish policy. In 1971, three British servicemen were ambushed by the IRA and Chichester-Clark was furious, he subsequently flew straight to London to meet Edward Heath who offered him over 1000 extra troops but then denied the Northern Irish PM any control over them, he was publicly annoyed with Heath and subsequently resigned just days later.


Shortly after Chichester-Clark's resignation, which marked the end of what Paisley described as a "failed Unionist premiership", he founded the Democratic Unionist Party with UUP MP Desmond Boal who represented the overwhelmingly Protestant constituency of Belfast Shankill. He and Paisley became the first DUP MPs in the House of Commons and Boal became the first Chairman of the Party, whilst Paisley served as leader. Paisley and Boal set out to provide a less compromising and staunch form of Unionism in politics as the UUP had been seen to crumble under the government's demands, especially during the latter months of the 1960s and early months of the 1970s. Paisley said he set the DUP up to "provide an alternative Unionist voice and a viable option for Unionists in Ulster". During the early days of the DUP, Paisley had attempted to reach out to the predominantly Catholic and soft nationalist SDLP, the Socialist and Democratic Labour Party, he had attempted to make a compromise to enable a new form of government in Stormont, similar, but less of an equal partnership, to the power sharing arrangement we have seen in recent times, however the SDLP were unwilling to even consider Paisley's proposals in the later days of 1971 and would lead to more than three decades of political instability in Stormont.


It was in 1973 that the most significant policy on Northern Ireland was produced by the Heath government, this was the Sunningdale Agreement, a power sharing deal for Stormont, nowhere near to the one Paisley had considered two years earlier. The main point of opposition that Paisley found was the creation of the Council of Ireland which would set up a line of communication between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, he saw the Agreement as a step towards a united Ireland and he wasn't alone, many Unionists and loyalists agreed with the preacher's views on Sunningdale and vehemently opposed it. Eventually, he got the support of the new leader of the UUP, Harry West in early 1974, this was soon followed by the support of Ulster Vanguard leader, William Craig, by the end of January 1974 they'd formed the United Ulster Unionist Council or the UUUC. The UUUC was set up to oppose the Sunningdale Agreement and any other plan to threaten the Union, their highly successful campaign was defined by the slogan 'Dublin, it's just a Sunningdale away'. The Agreement was eventually scrapped on 28th May 1974, much down to the work of the UUUC and its aligned workers' movement the Ulster Workers' Council which had arranged strikes against the Agreement which 'was designed to bring down our Union'.


Britain entered into the European Economic Community in 1973 under the Treaty of Rome and one of it's most vocal supporters in Parliament was one Ian Paisley, a staunch Eurosceptic from day one, he opposed Mr Heath taking us into the EEC and then was a leading campaign figure in the 'No' campaign in the 1975 referendum. Northern Ireland voted 'Yes' with a majority of 52pc to 48pc but Paisley continued his crusade against the Treaty of Rome, saying how the Europeans want to control us on a continental level, take our laws and how a united Ireland was the very least that would happen. By 1979, he was infuriated by the EEC and their ever more progressing steps towards a federal Europe, he subsequently stood for the European Parliament in the 1979 European elections as a DUP candidate for Northern Ireland, they won 170,000 votes which only resulted in a solitary seat, taken by the leader of the Party and North Antrim MP; the UUP's successful candidate was former Northern Ireland Home Affairs Minister, John Taylor who was a survivor of an IRA assassination in 1972, the other European Parliament seat was won by the SDLP's John Hume.


Paisley would be a very vocal MEP during his 25 year stint in Strasbourg, and very much so from his first day there, disrupting proceedings and the opening ceremony to point out that the Union Jack flag, flying outside was upside down. The Northern Ireland region MEP would become a known disrupter and regular agitator in the European Parliament, often to be deliberately obtuse, on his own admittance, the second major heckle in the Parliament was in July of 1979 when he repeatedly interrupted Irish Prime Minister, Jack Lynch in his speech to MEPs.


During the early years of the Thatcher government in the 1980s, Paisley had proposed the creation of a loyalist paramilitary force which would legally serve alongside the RUC and British Army to combat the IRA, this was to be known as the Third Force. However, although Mrs Thatcher approved of a tough approach in Northern Ireland, she wanted to try and resolve it peacefully and had entered negotiations with the Taoiseach Charles Haughey, something Paisley disapproved of. Furthermore, Thatcher was under mounting pressure to grant the hunger strikers political prisoner status, a right she later said she would never have approved, the hunger strikers included elected Sinn Fein MP Bobby Sands, who like all Sinn Fein representatives refused to take his seat in Westminster, he'd later die in prison and this caused mounting tensions between Thatcher and the nationalist, republican community. Paisley would repeatedly cause a headache for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, mainly Jim Prior, the leader of the wets in Thatcher's Cabinet, he was seen as a weak figure who failed at action and protecting the union; Prior denounced Paisley's Third Force saying how private armies would not be tolerated, despite this, it was assumed to have had over 15,000 members and popular support for Paisley was on the rise. Northern Irish Unionists weren't specifically opposed to Margaret Thatcher, more so her government's policy on Northern Ireland, Paisley gained thousands of followers and his DUP soon were gaining more support than the former party of Unionism, the UUP. Paisley often verbally jousted with the PM but both always admitted they had the utmost respect for each other, with the Iron Lady saying how Dr Paisley was a "man of morals and strong principles, which no matter what they were, one must admire"; Paisley similarly paid tribute to her when she left Office in November 1990 saying how she was a "great leader" and one who "truly loved Britain".


This doesn't mean that Thatcher and Paisley wouldn't be on very much the opposite team, and that was the very case in 1985 when Mrs Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement with Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald. The Agreement was intentioned to bring a peaceful end to the conflict in Northern Ireland; however, the document included an advisory role for the Republic of Ireland in any discussions, this clause absolutely infuriated Paisley and his UUP counterpart James Molyneaux. The resulting response from Paisley and Molyneaux was to launch the campaign which would be known as 'Ulster Says No', this included both Unionist parties, the DUP and UUP, resigning their seats in the House of Commons in protest, the suspension of local council meetings in Northern Ireland and supporting civil disobedience in the Ulster province. Not only that, the Anglo-Irish Agreement caused the resignation of Treasury Spokesman and Thatcher loyalist, Ian Gow who had served in Northern Ireland during his time in the army. Paisley wasn't the only vocal critic, former Conservative MP and somewhat supporter of Thatcher, Enoch Powell who now sat in the House as a UUP MP, was astounded how she could've even considered signing the Agreement at Hillsborough Castle; over 400,000 people signed a petition against the Agreement and the recently appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King, was attacked when he visited Belfast in November 1985 by loyalists. Thatcher hadn't predicted such an angry response from Unionists as the Agreement did say that it protected the Union and the state of Northern Ireland would not change, however the intended outcome of peace and more security co-operation also ultimately failed, in 1998 and in her memoirs, Lady Thatcher admitted that it was the "worst mistake of her career" and that she "regretted signing it".


Paisley was well within a shout of being Northern Ireland's most popular politician and was now firmly known as the voice of Unionism, his speech in opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement was one of his most memorable, it was on 23rd November 1985 outside Belfast City Hall to a crowd of around 100,000, according to The Sunday Times, where he would say "where do the terrorists operate from? From the Irish Republic! That's where they come from! Where do the terrorists return to for sanctuary? To the Irish Republic! And yet Mrs Thatcher tells us that that Republic must have some say in our Province. We say never, never, never, never!" A poll carried out by polling giant MORI, concluded the day after Paisley's address to the crowd outside City Hall that if there were to be a referendum on the Agreement, that over ¾ of Protestants would have voted against it. Irish historian and author, Dr Jonathan Bardon of Queen's University Belfast said that he had "seen nor heard nothing like it since 1912 when Lord Carson assembled his Ulster Volunteers to fight Home Rule". Paisley was ejected from the European Parliament in 1986 for continually interrupting Margaret Thatcher, including walking to the front with a banner displaying a Union Jack with the words 'Ulster Says No' – this stunt and others beforehand earned him the nickname of 'Dr No' as his official title was Dr Ian Paisley.


Paisley wouldn't only be focussed on his campaign of 'Ulster Says No' to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, he would very often be involved with several major campaigns simultaneously, all whilst remaining as a dedicated Presbyterian preacher. One of those other campaigns was the supporting of the Orange Order's right to march through the Catholic part of Portadown, in his home county of Armagh, like they had done for many years, Paisley himself had formerly been an Orangeman and was part of the Protestant brotherhood, the Apprentice Boys. This would be a cause close to Paisley's heart as it combined his Protestant faith, to which he was a devout follower of and his Unionist politics. In early 1986, he would march with 3000 Protestants at midnight, some armed, to force their way past the Police and into the Catholic district of Portadown – Paisley argued that it was their right to demonstrate the freedom of religion, peacefully and like they had done for years. Later in 1995, the town council stopped the Orangemen from marching past the Catholic areas and on the day of the march, thousands of Orangemen, as well as Paisley and his followers, engaged in a standoff outside Drumcree Church where Paisley rallied his supporters saying "it is a matter of life and death, a matter between the Republic and Ulster". At the end of the march, Paisley along with UUP politician David Trimble, held their hands up in victory following mass rioting in the town.


Stepping back a few years, back to the 1980s, Paisley was very much the loudest Unionist in the UK, although the DUP were still the smaller Unionist Party, they were certainly the loudest. Paisley had what every politician dreamt of, an ability to hold the attention of crowds no matter what he was saying, he could rally hundreds of thousands of people behind one cause and his charismatic nature allowed him to be one of the leading politicians of his day. Not only was he a staunch Unionist he was one of the staunchest Eurosceptics which came to a head during this decade when his interventions in the European Parliament became as regular as clockwork, including once in 1986 when he heckled Pope John Paul II, calling him "the anti-Christ" during an address to Strasbourg, the Protestant minister was consequently bombarded with papers from surrounding MEPs who were outraged at his remark. Paisley wouldn't only be ejected from the European Parliament on the aforementioned times, he would be regularly kicked out, but his strong Northern Irish accent and loud, booming voice could often be heard bellowing a Eurosceptic speech, right to the EEC.


After the Anglo-Irish Agreement was beyond the point of no return, Paisley begrudgingly took up his seat in the Palace of Westminster again, he would again be a vocal critic of the British government in their failings to sufficiently quash the IRA and protect the Union as well as opposing most pieces of European proposed legislation. He was a staunch opponent of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and although he acknowledged that Northern Irish farmers benefited from some agricultural subsidies, he would say that "the people of Northern Ireland will not sell out their principles for money", this Eurosceptic position has been carried on by today's DUP politicians who staunchly opposed the Backstop and Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement.


Paisley would also become a known agitator in the House of Commons in the 1990s, more so than he had been previously, including one time when Speaker Betty Boothroyd had to remove Ian Paisley from the Chamber after he refused to withdraw comments he accused Northern Ireland Secretary, Sir Patrick Mayhew of "issuing falsehoods to the people of Northern Ireland". Mayhew had been engaging in secret talks with the IRA to end The Troubles in Northern Ireland, without success and both he and John Major had publicly denied the talks until late 1993 when Paisley raised the matter in the Chamber, following the release of 12 documents proving otherwise. Paisley refused to withdraw the comments made about Mayhew and was subsequently ejected from the House, demanding the Secretary of State's resignation would form his next campaign but it bore no fruit and Mayhew remained until the end of the Major government in 1997.


By the time Tony Blair rose to power in mid-1997, the peace process was beginning to take form and the newly elected Prime Minister would make it his mission to end The Troubles in Northern Ireland, some say he done that but others say Blair's deal would sell out the Unionists and more so the British veterans of The Troubles. Ian Paisley was unsurprisingly in the latter frame of mind, during the peace process, Paisley was opposed to any more than minuscule compromise and would refuse to accept the outcome of the resulting Good Friday Agreement. The GFA was signed on Good Friday which fell on 10th April 1998, Paisley had initially participated in peace talks which started with negotiations led by US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, former Senator George J. Mitchell, however, it soon became apparent that he would not compromise to the extent needed for a peace deal; instead of participating in the crucial closing stages of the talks, Paisley travelled to Cameroon to make a documentary. Although he was in Africa during the final stages of the talks, he made clear that he was opposed to any resulting deal and his Party, the DUP would be the only major political party in Northern Ireland to voice opposition to the GFA; by this time the UUP, now seen again as the softer voice of Unionism, were led by David Trimble who would be the main Unionist catalyst during the process. Paisley argued that the GFA sold out the people of Northern Ireland and was another step towards a united Ireland, not only that he talked about how IRA men were let free and given amnesty, whilst he admitted loyalist paramilitaries were also given the same treatment, he made clear that "the IRA had a greater death toll and had not just targeted Northern Ireland and rival organisations", this view is echoed ever more prominently now, especially when the government were prior to this outbreak of COVID-19 pursuing British military and RUC veterans from The Troubles and more specifically Operation Banner.


The DUP fought the subsequent Northern Irish elections for Stormont on a strictly anti-Good Friday Agreement platform which yielded 20 seats for them, although this was a decrease of four from the previous Northern Irish Parliament elections in 1996. Dr Paisley himself would win a seat in Stormont, all whilst retaining his seat in the House of Commons and European Parliament, the UUP would take the most seats but the Unionist vote was split with the two parties at civil war, Trimble would get 28 seats but that would also be a decrease from the previous elections. Sinn Fein and the SDLP would gain seats in the Parliament make up, as would the UK Unionist Party, led by the former UUP MP Robert McCartney; although Trimble's UUP would win the most seats, the first past the post voting system meant the winners of the popular vote, John Hume's SDLP would be the second largest Party there.


The resulting makeup of the Northern Irish government was consisting of a multi-party power sharing system where the DUP took up two ministerial roles; Trimble would be the First Minister of Northern Ireland as leader of the largest party but all Paisley, Hume and Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams refused to take up ministerial roles. DUP Ministers, Nigel Dodds (who would later go on to be the DUP's Leader in Westminster) and Peter Robinson (who was Deputy Leader at the time and would subsequently lead the Party and become First Minister) refused to attend Executive Council meeting in the Northern Irish Assembly when Sinn Fein were present. Paisley himself had previously described the IRA's political wing as "so stained with our blood and it would take 100 years to pass before you can even acknowledge them as decent".Paisley stepped down from his seat in the European Parliament at the 2004 elections, aged 78, he said how he wanted to fully focus on domestic affairs in Northern Ireland and his duties as the MP for North Antrim. His European Parliament seat was succeeded by the former parliamentary candidate for the Traditional Unionist Voice and now DUP politician, Jim Allister, those Euro-elections would be significant as the SDLP would lose their seat for the Northern Ireland Province to the extremists Sinn Fein, the third seat would continue to be held by the UUP's Jim Nicholson.


The mid-2000s would signal a turning point in Paisley, or at least in his capacity, he agreed to meet Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in September 2005 at the Irish Embassy in London for breakfast where he ordered boiled eggs as "they would be hard for him to poison", a quip that amused the Irish Prime Minister. Paisley's potential mellowing may have been down to an illness which had nearly cost him his life in the late months of 2004, he was made a Privy Councillor in 2005, an honour traditionally given to leaders of the major parties in the respective nations, and lone behold he would agree to the St Andrew's Agreement of power sharing with Sinn Fein in late 2006, on the basis they accepted the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) would succeed the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Following Sinn Fein's acceptance of Paisley's demands, the DUP's majority in the Assembly would increase from 30 to 36 in the 2007 elections; the DUP and Sinn Fein had both succeeded respectively in becoming the largest parties representing Unionism and republicanism in Stormont. On the 8th May 2007, Ian Paisley officially became First Minister of Northern Ireland, entering into a power sharing arrangement with Sinn Fein, former IRA commander and their leader, Martin McGuinness would serve as Paisley's Deputy First Minister. Paisley and McGuinness had a good working relationship in the power sharing arrangements and were fondly nicknamed the Northern Irish chuckle brothers by the press; Paisley gained respect from all corner of politics and in 2007 was named as Opposition Parliamentarian of the Year by The House Magazine, a prestigious award for any MP; furthermore, he was named as politics' Marathon Man of the Year by The Spectator in recognition of the seemingly endless amount of work and roles Paisley held.


Now in his 80s, Paisley opted to stand down as leader of the DUP and then as First Minister in 2008, he was succeeded by his Deputy Peter Robinson who was elected unopposed as leader of the Party in April and he would officially succeed Paisley as First Minister on 5th June 2008. Paisley would also choose to stand down as an MP in the 2010 general election, his son Ian Paisley Jr. would take his North Antrim constituency and Dr Paisley would be given a life peerage in July of that year by the new Conservative government – his wife, Eileen Paisley who he married in 1956, already sat in the Lords as Baroness Paisley so he opted with the title of Baron Bannside, his first parliamentary constituency as he didn't want Eileen "to be sitting not in her own right but as my wife". His final retirement would be as the minister of his church, he announced to his congregation that he would step down in 2011 and he delivered his final sermon at the Martyrs' Memorial Hall just after Christmas in that year, he officially stepped down as a religious figure in January 2012.


Paisley passed away in Belfast on 12th December 2014 and his funeral held in Ulster Hall in the capital, he was 88 when he died and although his views had somewhat softened over the autumn years of his career and life, he will always be remembered as a principled politician who stood up for what he believed in. Although, I myself am a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party and admirer of Margaret Thatcher, whom Paisley often came into conflict with, I see Ian Paisley as one of my great political heroes and an important part in political history, a loud and staunch voice that fought for Unionism and the Monarchy to be kept in Northern Ireland, against a united Ireland, and also against the European Union.


Rest in peace, The Reverend and Rt. Hon. Dr Ian Richard Kyle Paisley PC, Baron Bannside 

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