Wasn't Ian Paisley a great man for Irish Catholics?

Do we have a sense of irony? It’s not
an easy concept to define but here
are a couple of examples.
We all know Ian Paisley was a
wonderful champion of Catholicism
and Catholics in Ireland. Don’t we?
He must have admired his
predecessor, the great Daniel
O’Connell or ‘The Liberator’, as he’s
known in history. His name lives on
in Dublin’s most im
pressive street.
It was O’Connell who won for
Catholics the right to vote and sit in
parliament (1829). It was a landmark
achievement. In time it changed the
course of Irish history. Eventually the
Irish Party in the House of Commons
persuaded Gladstone to support
their demand for home rule.
Protestants responded uneasily and
soon began to feel threatened. The
old liberal and even radical tradition
in Presbyterianism all but
disappeared as northern Protestants
became ardent unionists.
Daniel O’Connell must have been one
of Paisley’s greatest heroes. The
former First Minister would have
admired The Liberator’s oratory at
‘monster’ rallies attended by up to
100,000 people at symbolic
locations. Or perhaps if big Ian had
been around then he would have
organised ‘counter-demonstrations’!
Last week we read how Ian and
Eileen Paisley enjoyed the red carpet
treatment on a two-day visit to
Dublin. One of the highlights was a
visit to Daniel O’Connell’s tomb in
Glasnevin Cemetery. Ian was
conducted around by his friend, the
former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.
From throwing snowballs at Seán
Lemass’s car on his visit to Belfast in
1965 to visiting The Liberator’s tomb
in Dublin has to be a remarkable
journey by any standard.
Incidentally, at the Lemass protest
Paisley’s supporters carried placards
which read, “No Mass, no Lemass”
and “IRA murderer welcomed at
Stormont”. Does Ian Paisley have a
sense of irony? Doesn’t the adoption
of a course of action that seems to
contradict what one appeared to
‘stand for’ before qualify as ironic? At
the very least it makes a mockery of
earlier, stridently expressed views.
Ah yes, I nearly forgot it was the
dropping of the hated articles two
and three from the Irish Constitution
that made the new glasnost
possible. Hold on a minute, weren’t
the two offending articles dropped
as part of the Good Friday
Agreement? Ah yes, that probably
explains why the DUP were so keen
on the agreement. But now I’m
being more sarcastic than ironic and
they say sarcasm is the lowest form
of wit.
Then we recently had the killing of
former Red Hand Commando and
loyalist prisoner Bobby Moffett on
Belfast’s Shankill Road. Apparently he
had been involved in run-ins with
senior members of the UVF. His
execution on a sunny afternoon was
described as “internal UVF
housekeeping”. As a caller to Radio
Ulster’s Talkback put it, “It’s not OK to
kill Catholics no more”. So there’s
nothing else for it but to kill
Protestants instead. That’s all right
In fairness, senior DUP politicians
Dodds and McCausland attended
Moffett’s funeral to demonstrate
their opposition to his slaying. They
were taking part in a courageous
community demonstration rejecting
paramilitary violence. This
community reaction was widely
praised. The former Presbyterian
Moderator Dr Stafford Carson said,
“But one good thing to come out of
that depraved action has been the
response of the people of the
Shankill Road.”
But considering how critical some
unionist politicians were of Sinn Féin
leaders attending IRA funerals in the
past, doesn’t there have to be al least
some irony in Messers Dodds and
McCausland attending the funeral of
a former Red Hand Commando? www.derryjournal.com/hamills-beat/Wasn39t-Ian-Paisley-a-great.6362195.jp

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