Anti-Catholic politician Rev. Ian Paisley dies in Belfast

Northern Ireland politician Rev. Ian Paisley, who was infamous for his anti-Catholic rhetoric, yet came to share power with his enemies, has died.

Rev. Paisley died in Belfast on September 12, aged 88. He had a history of heart ailments.

He served as First Minister of Northern Ireland for a year when power was first devolved from London in 2007.

His deputy, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin, expressed sadness at the news of his death.

“Over a number of decades we were political opponents and held very different views on many, many issues, but the one thing we were absolutely united on was the principle that our people were better able to govern themselves than any British government,” he said.

For many years, Rev. Paisley’s incendiary rhetoric stoked anti-Catholic violence.

Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper, tweeted that Rev. Paisley “fanned the flames of hatred and murder”.

But Mr Kelly expressed sorrow for the Paisley family.

Rev. Paisley rose to prominence in the 1960s at the start of “the Troubles”, in which Northern Ireland was engulfed in sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants.

He led Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, but it was said that he was as helpful to Catholic constituents as to Protestants.

He served in Britain’s House of Commons for three decades and was elected to the European Parliament in 1979.

It was in the European Parliament in 1988, during an address by St John Paul II, that he held up a sign saying “Anti-Christ” and started shouting “I renounce you” before being forcibly removed.

He is also infamous for saying of Catholics in 1969: “They breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin.”

He said he considered all Catholics to be members of the Irish Republican Army, which he branded as a collective of terrorists.

In 2010, Rev. Paisley led protests against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain.

But his rhetoric wasn’t always directed against Catholics. In 1985, he labelled Margaret Thatcher a “wicked, treacherous and lying woman”.

For decades, Rev. Paisley had rejected any form of political compromise with Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority.

But, during the Troubles, Rev. Paisley began visiting Dublin to probe various political possibilities for the future.

He became Northern Ireland’s co-leader in 2007 after entering an agreement with Sinn Féin, the political arm of the IRA.


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