|“||Don't come crying to me if your homes are attacked. You will reap what you sow.||„|
|~ Ian Paisley, 1986|
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley, Baron Bannside, PC (April 6, 1926 – September 12, 2014) was a loyalist politician and Protestant religious leader from Northern Ireland. He was the leader of the infamous Democratic Unionist Party from 1971 until he was forced to resign by his party in 2008.
Paisley was one of the driving forces behind Sectarianism in Northern Ireland, which is defined as violence or action against those of an Irish nationalist background. He first came to fame in the 1950s by his harsh criticism of Pope John XXIII, when the British royal family met with him in 1959 he claimed they "Committed spiritual fornication with the Antichrist". In 1963, following the Pope's death, he began a picket in the street and proclaimed "This man of Romish sin is now in hell."
Not only did he bully Irish nationalists or homosexuals, but even fellow unionists, including Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terrence O'Neil (leader of the Ulster Unionist Party) for trying to sort out the differences between Unionists and Nationalists which lead to militant protests by Paisley and his followers.
His refusal to calm down violence between the two sides resulted in the birth of the Troubles in 1969, which saw the death of approximately 4,000 people as a result of sectarian violence. It is unlikely Paisley killed anyone in person but a played a major part in the deaths of not only Nationalists but many of his fellow Protestants for encouraging violence against Nationalists and refusing to negotiate a ceasefire between the two sides.
Paisley was well known for his fiery speeches attacking Irish Nationalism, this included the infamous 1985 Never, Never, Never speech was criticized by the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for her refusal to ally herself with him.
He was well known for his homophobic preaching, in 1977 he launched the Save Ulster From Sodomy campaign which aimed to keep homosexuality illegal in that jurisdiction as it was likely to be decriminalized in the near future. His attempt to keep homosexual activity illegal ended in vain as fellow unionist Jeff Dudgeon won a case in the European Convention of Human Rights which decriminalized homosexuality in Northern Ireland in 1982.
Preaching against homosexuality became one of his major targets during the early 1970s, when he called homosexuals the biggest threat to the country. This came at the height of the Northern Ireland troubles, many innocent civilians were being murdered due to political warfare.
After founding the Democratic Unionist Party in 1971, he began associating with fellow militant unionist Peter Robinson who was convicted of various sectarian crimes and lead the formation of the Ulster Resistance in 1986. Ironically, Robinson, who was like Paisley in the sense they used religion as a way to bully others and lead oppression would go on to betray Paisley in order to obtain his seat as First Minister in 2008, which would ultimately severely demobilize his power and lead to his departure from public life.
In the early 1980s, he formed a pact with the terrorist organization the Ulster Defence Association which aimed to promote right-wing unionism, this was possibly because he needed an all ally as he saw Irish nationalists fighting against his sectarian bigotry as a threat.
By the late 1990s, the Northern Irish community wanted the Troubles to come to an end after nearly three decades of violence. This lead to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, but Paisley and his party originally opposed the Good Friday Agreement, which was met with backlash from even his fellow unionists.
Later, he and his party agreed to a working relationship with the largest Irish Republican party, Sinn Fein and leader of the party in the North, Martin McGuinness, a former member of the Irish Republican Army who had long since left republican terror. Many have accused him of doing so as he and his party could have potentially won the majority in the upcoming election and this would allow him to become First Minister, this worked and he became First Minister until Peter Robinson forced him out, likely as he saw an opportunity for power.
He would refuse to take any responsibility for any war crimes he committed or championed during the Troubles even after forming a pact with Sinn Fein.
Following his power being decreased he slowly began a departure from public life. One of his last appearances was in an early 2014 interview with journalist Eamonn Mallie, throughout the interview, he would often stop Mallie in the middle of his question and tell him to move on, or when Mallie would bring up one of his controversial statements he would say he didn't have any memory of saying, even though he was caught on record of making such outrageous statements, this was likely as he didn't want to take responsibility.
He died on September 12, 2014, aged 88 after being in very poor health.
He had a strong admiration for the infamous 17th-century dictator, Oliver Cromwell and cited the 1970 film Cromwell as his all-time favorite film. Cromwell also had a deep hatred for Catholics.
Many of his critics have drawn comparisons between him and Fred Phelps, both used religion as a way to justify their disgraceful behavior and had an intense hatred for gay people.
Paisley was ultimately stabbed in the back by his party, as his deputy Peter Robinson saw this as an opportunity to overtake him in leadership.