Over the past days I have read , heard , and seen , people all excusing the Paisley of old and praising the Paisley of recent times and his efforts for peace, the only person who I heard today who gave any sort of balanced view on Paisley was Dr Ferriter from UCD , but I would like to give a first hand view of Dr Paisley from the point of view of a nationalist living in Belfast in the 50s,60s,70s, a man who at every turn destroyed every move at reconciliation to nationalist or any move to equality for the catholic people , he was someone who always played to the lowest common dominator of fear and bigotry, I will explain how , he terrorised and brutalised people of both communities.
To my memory it all started back in 1964 with the westminster election and the entry of sinn fein into politics this was long before any campaign for civil rights but the right of a nationalist / republican to stand in election for the west belfast westminster seat, the candidate was Liam Mcmillan.This event was to be the start of the end of armed struggle and the entry into a political path.I explained in other blogs, all of the men who came out of the jails after the border campaign from 1956 to 1960 had seen the futility of armed struggle and went on their way or got involved in the political struggle.
This was to be a normal rational election , sinn fein as a political party, standing up for their people , we opened an election office in the lower falls at the corner of dover street just across the road from st comgalls school ,as this was our headquarters the national flag of ireland ( the tricolor) was put up in the window, no one took any notice and that included the RUC but not Paisley he demanded that this flag be taken down and out of the window or he would led a demonstration of loyalist and create civil disorder, the RUC as usal secummed and they then moved on the office smashed the window and removed the flag ,this in turn led to 3 days of riots and civil disturbance including the use of shortland armoured cars by the B Specials and heavy machine guns.
This in turn led to the murder of Peter Ward a catholic barman of which Gusty Spence was found guilty, the various explosions around north County Antrim committed by his loyalist followers in an effort to stir up fear and to create the impression that there was an IRA campaign starting,
This was all in an effort to stop and undermine the changes being pursued by the then Northern Ireland Prime Minister Capt Terence O’Neill who was trying to improve relations with the Republic, of which he was up to a point successful,
His opposition to and his determined hate of nationalists and Catholics led to the destruction of the peaceful civil rights movement as nationalist’s walked the roads and by roads of the north for justice, equality in jobs, homes,justice and culture, his on going preaching of hate towards the catholic and nationalist community was the spark for the programs off 1969 , and the burning out of 3000 catholic homes and families including the murder of innocent Catholics across Belfast which led to the 30 year war .
During this time off conflict Paisley found every way to oppose any form of comprise with the nationalist community, which cost the lives of in excess of 3600 lives including nationalist, unionist and British
So I don’t believe that paisley was a peacemaker the only reason he accepted the Good Friday Agreement Which he never signed but instead negotiated a add on which was the St Andrew agreement which Incorporated the Good Friday Agreement was because Tony Blair stood up to him with a choice power shearing or joint authority.
Paisley was never going to allow that to happen on his watch !!
The question now is has anything changed in 2017? ? It would seem not as the bigots of unionism have not gone away you know , but then again neither have the nationalist / republicans as we continue our fight for equality, justice, and recognition of our culture and language
first posted 2014 updated Oct 2017