Monday, 14 November 2011

Goodbye Dr No

The news that the Rev Dr Ian Paisley is to stand down as a preacher in the Free Presbyterian Church he set up in 1951 is hardly surprising given that he's 85.  He has already stepped down as moderator of the church, a MP, Northern Ireland First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in the last couple of years. It's certainly less surprising than him becoming First Minister in the first place, let alone one seemingly on friendly terms with his deputy, former Provisional IRA Chief of Staff Martin McGuinness.

Paisley always reminds me of what a Catholic priest I know used to joke: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was No."  Those who see his career as a question of showmanship are only partly right.  Beyond the political stunts - like heckling the Pope in the European Parliament in 1988 - and the Bible thumping preaching was a conviction politician who actually believed what he said he did.  In many ways, his unbending Ulster Protestantism was more suited to the seventeenth than the twentieth or twenty-first centuries.

This song by The Dubliners allegedly about Paisley sums him up.

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