Jude Collins

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Ian Paisley in hospital - so how do you feel?

It’s a funny old thing, identity. Who are you? Are you the primary school child who got bullied or had a toilet problem? Maybe you’re the young stud or sexy thing who turned heads? Or the middle-aged pontificator,  or the ageing reactionary, or the bewildered figure in the old people’s home?  They could all be you and yet each is sharply different.

It’s an issue that intrigues me and it flared up again when I heard yesterday that Ian Paisley had been rushed to hospital and is in intensive care. Most of us have grown used to the later Paisley: the hunched, hesitant figure, eyes closed, groping for words. But it’s wrong as well as inaccurate to present a person’s life in that selective way. Ian Paisley was also the man who led the charge, a bull in clergy clothing, against the civil rights movement; he was the man who ended the career of UUP leader after UUP leader for being too soft, and promised  he would smash Sinn Féin; he was the man who said "Never, never, never, never!" and kept the pot stirred here for decades. He was seen by many Catholics as the epitome of bigotry.

And yet all those former identities fall away,  as I hear news of a sick old man in a hospital bed, his family fearful and maybe tearful, all that former strength  utterly shorn from the north’s Samson.  He’s not a man for whom it’s easy to feel sympathy, and no doubt he’d reject it if he could, but this morning, I feel sorry for Ian Paisley’s family and – to my mild astonishment -  for Ian Paisley himself. 


  1. Maybe a bit premature but expect a full state funeral. When you think how this man tore Northern Ireland apart with his hate filled rants its only fitting that he gets such an honour afterall its not like we would do it for just some drunk footballer or something oh hang on a minute ....

  2. Like feeling sorry for Hitler , Attila the Hun , Vlad the Impaler etc. At least 30 years of war can be laid firmly at his door with the anguish and deaths attached.I only hope his version of God is as forgiving as you cause if ever someone deserved to burn in hell its him.

  3. Maybe I'm a bit biased here...

    This is a man who:
    -Pushed unionism further to the Hard line
    -Did not want civil rights
    -Promoted sectarianism
    -Advocated violence.

    Imagine a world where the 50's and 60's had panned out differently, what if Catholics in NI had been given civil rights? Decent housing was uniform, the west of the Bann hadn't been ignored. What if Jude had got funding for his masters in Dublin rather than facing a bigoted decision? What if people had been encouraged to get along rather than to hate?

    What if Faulkner hadn't been forced out? What if all the past agreements hadn't been sunk by him?

    My view (as a 30year old) is that the troubles grew out of the civil rights movement and the violent bigoted response that received... caused by who? The unionists... and exploited by some to make it a war against the Brits... What if that hadn't happened, what if Bloody Sunday hadn't happened because no-one opposed civil Rights for all?

    Wouldn't that have been nice? Now, can you think of anyone who fanned the flames of hatred? Preached Bigotry? Encouraged Violence?

    I can.

    Q. How many deaths could have been prevented?
    A. Lots.

    I expect people will look at it and expect Half the population to be joyous when he goes and half to be grief stricken... As a unionist..I can tell you that there will be at least One person who wont be wearing sack cloth and mourning. Of course I wouldnt wish death upon anyone, but there are a lot more charitable cases to pray for.

  4. Hundreds if not thousands would be living today and troubles would never have got so bad had it not been for the so called doctor

  5. section 408
    You lay the blame for 30 years of war firmly on Paisley?
    No personal responsibility attached to those with the guns then?

  6. Every reasonable person who grew up in the north since the sixties will hold Paisely personally responsible for the Troubles. Of course there are great historical issues and movements, but just as it's hard to imagine the Nazis without Hitler, or communism without Stalin, so the Troubles without Paisley. He'll need a lot of prayers and by God he'll be glad to discover there is a purgatory after all (if he's lucky).

  7. Anonymous 7:11 am
    Every reasonable person may agree that Paisley should bear his share of the blame for the start of the troubles. But just maybe a few others have some responsibility too, don't you think?
    Also, every reasonable person knows that purgatory along with heaven and hell is a makey-uppy place for the kids.

    1. @giordanobruno

      At the end of WW2 the leaders of the Nazi party were tried at nuremburg and hung or shot.
      These men had probably never pulled a trigger but they were guilty.

      The troubles were a lot of vunerable, easily influenced working class young men from both sides killing each other and other innocent people for a cause they do not understand completely. They bear responsibility yes, but those who put them up to it are vile creatures.

  8. People are, of course, responsible for their own actions - and every person who committed murders carries that shame. Paisley carries a special burden, not just for the deaths but for the guilt of those he created - the ordinary people who would never have got involved were it not for his evil bigotry. I will pray for him - I have no desire for him to burn in hell or any such thing. The mercy of God is great and I suspect in recent years Paisley has come to know his own guilt.

  9. Ryanm29
    The comparison to the Nazis is not valid. The Nazi leaders were giving direct orders to kill others. While the soldiers under there command still bear personal responsibility for their choices, they would not have had the same freedom to choose as those involved in our own little mess.
    Anyone in an armed organisation here was a volunteer and chose to use violence. Adults who made adult decisions. Don't let them off the hook so easily.

  10. The comments on this page are a perfect example of the republicans perpetual tendency to re write history. Also the bigotry and vile hatred displayed says more about the contributers than the person they are vilifying.Ian Paisley is not and never was a man of violence unlike those from the republican side who he graciously made peace with. I would urge you all to move on and put aside your blind bigotry starting by checking your history to establish who really was responsible for the carnage over forty years.

  11. deno
    You are right that some wish to vilify Paisley. However you cannot claim he is a gracious man of peace if you know anything about his history.
    Things are rarely black and white.
    He was not solely to blame for the troubles as some would claim, but he most certainly has to share the responsibility for all that happened.

  12. Aside from his inane bigotry, Paisley Snr is a power-hungry, egotistical man. I suspect that "The Ulster People" were and are, in Paisley's eyes, synonymous with himself, interchangeable.

    My thoughts are that he is probably likeable on a personal level. He is ruthless, cold, viscous and politically, manipulative and full of false magnanimity. Frankly, I think he's diagnosable.

    To be ruthless about it, he has got off easily considering his legacy.

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