Ian [Richard Kyle] Paisley

1926- [Ian Richard Kyle Paisley]; b. 6 April, Killyea, nr. Sixmilecross, Co. Armagh, yngr. son of a Tyrone Baptist preacher [formerly Church of Ireland] and a Scottish Covenanting governness working in Lurgan; received ‘call’ at 16; established an independent Gospel Tabernacle; became Baptist; licensed minister of East Belfast Mission, 1946; commenced ministry at Ravenhill Rd. (“Martyrs Memorial” Church), Belfast in protest against the ‘apostasy’ of Ulster’s largest Protestant church, 1951 break-away move involving five elders of the Crossgar congregation;
became moderator of the Free ‘Presbyterian’ Church though never properly part of a Presbyterian congregation; opposed all ecumenical parleys with ‘Godless Romanism’ and ‘rescued’ one Maura Lyons from Rome in the 1950s; attacked Donald Soper, Methodist minister of Ballymena, for liberalism; went to Rome to oppose Vatican II (10-16 Oct. 1962); held mass meetings to protest lowering of British flag on Belfast City Hall to half-mast at death of Pope John XXIII; denounced Terence O’Neill as traitor on meeting Sean Lemass, 25 Feb. 1965, throwing snowballs at the passing cavalcade; led demonstration against Capt. O’Neill, prime Min. of N.I., involving egg-throwing incident outside Pres. Gen. Assembly, Belfast, and sentence to 3 months imprisonment;
treated Northern Ireland Civil Rights Assoc. [NICRA] as front for IRA, prominent in Loyalist counter-demonstrations during Civil Rights marches, 1968-72; following of 7,000 by 1971; led attack on Catholic marchers at Burntollet, Bridge, Jan. 1969; took 24 percent (to Faulkner’s 29) in Bannside constituency, 1969; won the Bannside seat Stormont seat in N. Antrim, 1970; afterwards won the Westminster seat for N. Antrim with 41 per cent, June 1970; established Democratic Unionist Party with Desmond Boal, Oct. 1971; strike committee that brought down the power-sharing Executive, 1974; elected to European Assembly seat, 1979; victim of internal rift when Rev. Mervyn Cotton estab. Reformed Free Presbyterian Church, Randalstown, 1993; opened congregation of 12 at Barry Port, nr. Swansea, Aug. 1994;
received an LLD from Bob Jones Univ. (which dismissed Billy Graham for liberalism); writings incl. The Fifty-Nine Revival (1958); Christian Foundations (1960); An Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (London 1968); The Massacre of St. Bartholomew (1972); Paisley, the Man and His Message (1976); America’s Debt to Ulster (1976), all of the foregoing, London excepted, publ. Martyrs Memorial Publications, Belfast; also a short study, Jonathan Edwards, Theologian of Revival (q.d.); he features as ‘The Big Man’ in Tom Paulin’s Sophoclean play, The Riot Act (1985); ironically styled ‘the last romantic’ by Brendan Kennelly; appointed First Minister of Northern Ireland Assembly when the DUP entered govt. with Sinn Féin, 2007; 12 Sept. 2104. DIH WJM

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  • The ‘Fifty-Nine’ Revival: An Authentic History of the Great Ulster Awakening of 1859 (Belfast: The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster 1958), [8], 208pp., 4 pls., ports.
  • Christian Foundations (Belfast: Free Presbyterian Church 1959), 155pp.; port.
  • The World Council of Churches: Doctrinally Unbiblical, Basically Unprotestant, Ecclesiastically Unclean, Practically Unchristian, Spiritually Untrustworthy (Belfast: Puritan Printing Co. [q.d.]), 31pp.
  • The New English Bible: Version or Perversion? [6th edn.] (Belfast: Puritan Publishing Co 1968), 52pp.
  • Three Great Reformers (Belfast: Puritan Publishing Co. 1968), 48pp.
  • Yea, He is Altogether Lovely (Puritan Printing Co. 1968), 23pp.
  • Messages from the Prison Cell (Belfast: Puritan Publishing Co [1968]), 48pp.
  • Why I am a Protestant (Ravenhill Pulpit Sermons, 23] (Belfast: Puritan Printing Co. 1968), 15pp.
  • Billy Graham and the Church of Rome (Belfast: Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church 1970), [8], 62, [72]pp., ill., facs.
  • Why I Believe the Bible is the Word of God [Christian Foundations Ser.] (London: British Council of Protestant Christian Churches [1970]), 31, [1]pp.
  • The Massacre of St. Bartholomew: A Record of Papal Terror and Protestant Triumph in France in the Sixteenth Century (Belfast: Puritan Printing Co. [1972]), 148pp., pls.
  • The Dagger of Treachery Strikes at the Heart of Ulster: address by Ian R.K. Paisley [Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, Sun. 25 June 1972] (Belfast: [s.n.] 1972), 15pp.
  • United Ireland - Never! (Belfast: Puritan Printing Co. 1972).
  • False Views by Modern Man (Belfast: Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church [1972]), 49pp.
  • America’s debt to Ulster (Belfast: Martyrs Memorial Publications, 1976), 73pp.
  • with Ald. Peter D. Robinson [&] Rt. Hon. John D. Taylor, Ulster the Facts (Belfast: Crown Publications 1982), 128pp., ills., maps, ports.
  • Mr. Paisley’s Opening Speech at the Brooke Talks: Stage One [Belfast: s.n., 1990], 16pp.
  • Ballymena - Our Town: Ian Paisley & Jack McCann in conversation with Eull Dunlop (Ballymena: Mid Antrim Historical Group [1994]), 24pp.
  • A Bill to Prohibit, in Northern Ireland, Discrimination against Disabled People on the ground of their disability, and for connected purposes, presented by Reverend Ian Paisley; supported by Reverend William McCrea and Peter Robinson [ordered to be printed House of Commons 2nd Feb. 1995] (London: HMSO, 1995), ii, 18pp.
  • Benjamin Wills Newton - Maligned but Magnificent: A Centenary Tribute (Chelmsford: Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony 1999), [16]pp.
See also The Ulster Problem - Spring 1972: A Discussion of the True Situation in Northern Ireland (1972) [pamph.], and Reasonable Doubt: The Case for the UDR Four / Ian Paisley, Jnr. [his son], with a foreword by Robert Kee (Dublin: Mercier [1991]), 15pp.

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  • Ed Moloney & Andy Pollak, Paisley (Dublin Swords: Poolbeg 1986).
  • Steve Bruce, God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism (OUP 1986) [sometimes called sycophantic].
  • Tom Paulin, ‘Paisley’s Progress’, in Ireland and the English Crisis (1984) [extract].
  • Clifford Smyth, Ian Paisley, the Voice of Ulster (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press 1987), 206pp.
  • Maurice Goldring, ‘Paisley - Le Pen’, in Barbara Hayley & Christopher Murray, eds., Ireland and France, A Bountiful Friendship, Essays in Honour of Patrick Rafroidi (Colin Smythe 1992), pp.163-172.
  • Dennis Cooke [princ. Edgehill Theol. College, Belfast], Persecuting Zeal: A Portrait of Ian Paisley (Dingle: Brandon 1996), 224pp.
  • Steve Bruce, Paisley: Religion and Politics in Northern Ireland (OUP 2007), 307pp.
  • David Gordon, The Fall of the House of Paisley (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 2009), 352pp.

See also Dervla Murphy, A Place Apart [Record of Northern Ireland] (London: Routledge 1978), pp.142-49 [a witness to Paisley’s preaching of violence].

Note: Seamus Heaney contrib. to ‘Out of London’ [column], New Statesman (1965), analysing the ominous influence of Ian Paisley on deteriorating Northern politics. (See Neil Corcoran, Seamus Heaney, 1986, p.21-22; quoted in Julie-Anne Devlin, UG Diss. UUC 2006.)

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Tom Paulin,‘Paisley’s Progress’, in Ireland and the English Crisis (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe 1984), likens Paisley to a ‘Presbyterian aborigine [...] who strode the coast of Antrim long before the birth of Christ’ and calls him ‘a complex and protean personality who imagines cyclones of blessings [and] compares himself to [...] Gandhi.’ (pp.166-67; quoted in Loredana Salis, ‘“So Greek with Consequence”: Classical Tragedy in Contemporary Irish Drama’, PhD Diss., UUC, 2005.)

Seamus Deane, Heroic Styles: The Tradition of an Idea [Field Day Pamphlet, No. 4] (Derry: Field Day 1984), ‘Paisley […] is the most remarkable incarnation of the communal spirit of unionism. In him, violence, a trumpery evangelism, anti-popery and a craven adulation of the “British” way of life are soldered together in a populist return to the first principles of “Ulsterness”. No other leader has the telluric power of this man.’ (p.15.)

Dervla Murphy, A Place Apart [Record of Northern Ireland] (London: Routledge 1978), quotes Paisley: “Christ was violent man! Violent for good! Violent to stamp out wickedness, violent for God’s sake! Our battle is not against a system - it is against the people who uphold that system! And we must be violent for God’s sake! We must attack the people who uphold rottenness - as Christ attacked the money-changers! Remember - it’s not the system we must attack but the people - the people who represent he Anti-Christ in our midst! Be violent for Christ’s sake, to defend that faith whcih he himself defended with his fists!” - and remarks: ’As I transcribe these words from my diary, where I wrote them within moments of leaving the [Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian] church, I realise that some readers will have difficulty in believing that a man who pretends to be a Christian, and sits as an MP in the House of Commons, could say such things to a gathering of Belfast citizens in the year 1976.’ (p.144). [Cont.]

Dervla Murphy (A Place Apart, 1978) - cont. [quoting Paisley further]: ‘I was aware of blasphemy being committed as this demented creature paced from end to end of his pulpit-stage, flourishing the Bible and repetitively - almost hypnotically - insisting on the need to defend, to fight, to do battle, to vanquish, to conquer, to assert, to unsheathe the sword, to show no mercy to the enemies of God [...] The cunning with which he used an aggressice, militaristic phraseology - all culled from the Bible - was literally blood-chilling.’ (p.145.) Murphy finds this ‘whole travesty of a Christian church service diabolically clever’ and finds it ‘hard to accept that unaided human nature hs the capacity to be so evil’ but also notes that Paisley’s church is often visited ‘for laughs’. (p.146.)

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Austen Morgan, review of Ed Molony & Andrew Pollack, Paisley (Poolbeg), and Steve Bruce, God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism (Clarendon), notes that two doctoral theses on Paisley have been accepted by QUB (Books Ireland, May 1987, p.97 [biography as supra].)

Steve Bruce, The Edge of the Union, The Ulster Loyalist Political Vision (OUP 1994), supplies extensive commentary tending to exculpate Paisley from first-hand responsibility for ultra-Protestant violence in spite of his connection with several paramilitary initiatives; note especially Paisley’s comment on the Greysteel massacre of Nov. 1993: ‘These murders come from hell and they lead to hell’ (Independent, 2 Nov. 1993), to which Bruce adds that Paisley is one of those who mean hell literally.

Stephen Douds, ‘Wee Free King’, traces Paisley’s emergence through an internal dispute in the Church in Crossgar with the rump attached themselves to him; his picketing of move to ecumenism in Protestant churches; ‘Paisley relationship - or lack of it - with other Protestant churches is the source of a major paradox at the heart of Northern Ireland’s diminishing religious landscape ... the more he distances himself from the other churches, the greater his influence on them’. (Fortnight Review, May 1996, pp.26-17.)

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Nicholas Murray, review of Tom Paulin, ‘Paisley’s Progress’, Writing to the Moment: Selected Critical Essays 1980-1996 (Faber 1996), notes that this essay ‘goes beyond the prevailing view of Paisley as a comic bigot from the cover of Private Eye to trace the moral and intellectual lineaments of his “puritan egotism”, that crumpled sense of grievance buried under a bellicose rhetoric.’ (Times Literary Supplement, 29 Nov. 1996, p.26.)

Shirley Kelly interviews Dennis Cooke, author of Persecuting Zeal (Dingle: Brandon 1996), 224pp., same issue includes notice in First Flush, identifying author as methodist minister and principal of Edgehill Theological College; the work notices Paisley’s brand of theology, based on antagonism to Catholicism and the doctrine that forgiveness is only appropriate where the culprit has repented. (Books Ireland Dec. 1996.)

Maurice Hayes writes in Minority Report (1995) that Paisley has six personalities: ‘two of them are very nice people, two quite awful, and the other two could go either way.’ [Cited in Marianne Elliott, reviewing Minority Report and other books on N. Ireland, in Times Literary Supplement (9 Feb. 1996), pp.4-5.]

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Against ecumenicism: ‘It is quite evident that the Ecumenists, both political and ecclesiaastical, are selling us. Every Ulster Protestant must unflinchingly reist these leaders and let it be known in no uncertain manner that they will not sit idly by as these modern Lundies pursue their policy of treacher. Ulster expects every Protestant ... to do his duty.’ (Quoted in Ed Molony and Andy Pollock, Paisley, Poolbeg 1986, p.121; cited in Michael Parker, Northern Irish Literature 1956-2000: The Imprint of History [2001], q.p. [from typescript.])

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, quotes sermons &c., ‘Gospel Power’, ‘What Think Ye of Christ’; ‘An Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans’; ‘The Three Hebrew Children’; BIOG 378-79.

James S. Donnelly, Jr., et al., eds., Encyclopedia of Irish History and Culture (Macmillan Reference USA [Thomson Gale] 2004), Vol. II [of 2] commences with an article on Paisley.

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Bob Jones U.: Paisley received his LLD from Bob Jones Univ., which dismissed Billy Graham for excessive liberalism. [R.E. Ward; email through Irish Studies List, Virginia, Oct. 1996.]

Terribly sorry: Hugh McClean, sentenced for the murder of Peter Ward in 1966, said, ‘I am terribly sorry I ever heard of that man Paisley or decided to follow him’, and further: ‘I was asked did I agree with Paisley and was I prepared to follow him. I said that I was.’ (Cited in review of Dennis Cooke, Persecuting Zeal, in Books Ireland, March 1997, p.51.)

Handshakes: Rev Ian Paisley, First Minister of Northern Ireland, and President Mary McAleese shook hands at their first official meeting at the Somme Heritage Centre in Newtownards, Co Down. (See photo, The Irish Times, 11 Sept. 2007.)

Kith & Kin: Rev. Kyle Paisley (b.1967) is minister of a Free Presbyterian congregation near Lowestoft, Suffolk.

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