Life Summary of Ian Paisley
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley (born 6 April 1926), styled The Rev and Rt Hon. Ian Paisley MP MLA and also known as Dr Ian Paisley, is a senior politician and church leader in Northern Ireland. As the leader of the most successful party in the 2007 elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, he took up office as the First Minister of Northern Ireland on 8 May 2007.
He is a founding member of and current Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster while also Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Paisley has been Member of Parliament for the constituency of North Antrim since 1970, and is also a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the same constituency.
Paisley has been an outspoken critic of the Roman Catholic faith and has also campaigned against the legalisation of homosexuality. In 2005, Paisley’s political party became the largest Unionist party in Northern Ireland, displacing his long-term rivals, the Ulster Unionists (UUP). Paisley is also a prolific author, lecturer, and speaker.
Early Life Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley was born in Armagh, County Armagh and brought up in the town of Ballymena, County Antrim, where his father James Kyle Paisley was an Independent Baptist pastor. His Scottish mother Isabella Paisley was instrumental in his evangelical conversion at the age of six. After completing his education at the Model School in Ballymena, he went to work on a farm in Sixmilecross, County Tyrone. During this time he felt that he received a vocation to enter the Christian ministry. He undertook theological training at the fundamentalist Barry School of Evangelism (eventually renamed the South Wales Bible College which was later replaced by the Evangelical Theological College of Wales), and later, for a year, at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Hall in Belfast.
Membership of the Loyal Orders – Orange Order
Paisley is a former member of the Orange Institution. He addresses the annual gathering of the Independent Orange Order every Twelfth of July.
‘Ulster says no’
In the 1980s Paisley, like all the major Unionist leaders, opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985), signed by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Dr. Garret FitzGerald. The Agreement provided for an Irish input into the governing of Northern Ireland, through an Anglo-Irish Secretariat based at Maryfield, outside Belfast and meetings of the Anglo-Irish Conference, co-chaired by the Republic’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Britain’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The Unionists objected due to the fact that the Agreement was imposed on the people with no referendum, and to the notion of a foreign government “interfering” in the affairs of a part of the United Kingdom. Sinn Féin also objected.
A rally of protesters, numbering an estimated 200,000 people, met in front of Belfast City Hall after a campaign dubbed after its slogan “Ulster Says No”. The rally, which was addressed by Paisley and then UUP leader James Molyneaux, passed off peacefully but was ignored by the government. On December 9, 1986, Paisley was once again ejected from the European Parliament for continually interrupting a speech by Mrs Thatcher.
In 1985, he and the rest of the Unionist MPs resigned from Parliament at Westminster in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement and were, all but one (Jim Nicholson, who lost his seat to the Social Democratic and Labour Party’s Seamus Mallon), returned in the resulting by-elections.
In 1995, he played a part in the first standoff over marching at Drumcree, County Armagh between the Orange Order and local residents of the Garvaghy Road. The march passed off after the decision was made by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to allow it and Paisley ended the march hand in hand with David Trimble who appeared to perform a “Victory Jig”. This “Victory Jig” was seen by some as an act of triumphalism.
John Hume tells the story of the occasion when he said to Ian Paisley, “Ian, if the word ‘no’ were to be removed from the English language, you’d be speechless, wouldn’t you!” Paisley replied, “No, I wouldn’t!”
St Andrews Agreement
On 13 October 2006, Paisley gave his provisional assent to the St. Andrews Agreement, by which Sinn Féin would fully accept the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and the Democratic Unionist Party would agree to become a full part of the Northern Ireland Executive. Paisley left immediately after speaking to the press conference for his fiftieth wedding anniversary. Since then, Paisley has indicated that his party “would not be found wanting” if Sinn Féin gives formal support to policing in Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin did endorse the PSNI, and in the subsequent election Paisley and the DUP received an increased share of the vote and increased their assembly seats from 30 to 36. On Monday 26 March 2007, the date of the British Government deadline for devolution or dissolution, Paisley led a DUP delegation to a meeting with a Sinn Fein delegation led by Gerry Adams which agreed on a DUP proposal that the executive would be established on May 8 after a delay of six weeks.
- BBC Extended interview with Ian Paisley (April 2006; interviewed by William Crawley)
- DUP – Ian Paisley
- Biography of Ian Paisley at BBC
- The Miracle of Belfast