“For all his bellowing, Paisley was a coward”: Bradley

September 22, 2014

The recent death of the former DUP leader and First Minister, Ian Paisley, marks the end of an era for a specific brand of politics in the North and should “close the door on negative politics”, SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley, has said.

Commenting on Mr Paisley’s contribution to politics, Mr Bradley says the firebrand preacher’s approach was one of “exploitation of people’s deepest fears and emotions for his own personal aggrandizement”.

“[Paisley’s] main aim during his political life was to destroy his Unionist political opponents using personal attacks and street corner tactics.  [His] verbal attacks on the Catholic church and on other churches served only to drive a further wedge between communities, increasing sectarian tensions and hatred. His opposition to most efforts at political progress ensures that the Troubles continued much longer than might otherwise have been the case,” Mr Bradley claimed.

“Ian Paisley threatened violence while claiming that he opposed violence. In essence he was a coward who led people to the brink and then withdrew only to see some hotheads join loyalist paramilitary groups who ceaselessly attacked innocent Catholics and Protestants. For all his bellowing, Paisley was essentially a coward when push came to shove.

“His road to Damascus conversion to power sharing was influenced more by his egotistic desire to become the leader of unionism and First Minister of the North. His ego was such that no existing political party or church could accommodate him. The irony of the end of his political career was the fact that the two edifices which he constructed were those which, at the end of the day, fell in around him and left him so embittered and soured.”

Mr Bradley reflected on his personal association with Paisley during which he attempted to elicit a retraction of the statement made in the House of Commons in 1999 when he accused Whitecross man, Eugene Reavey, of masterminding the Kingsmill Massacre.

“My own dealings with him centre around attempts to elicit a retraction of the statement he made in the House of Commons impugning the good name of Eugene Reavey and others. Alas, Mr Paisley unfortunately did not have the good grace to respond, he completely ignored my correspondence,” Mr Bradley commented.

“It would be heartless to ignore the feelings of his family at this time of bereavement for them, but it behoves all of us to be realistic and truthful in our analysis of past events. One would have to say that the hope is that Ian Paisley’s passing closes the door on an era of negative and bombastic politics which contributed very little to progress here.”