The Plastic Hippo

September 13, 2014


Filed under: Faith,Politics — theplastichippo @ 3:01 am
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Via National Portrait Gallery

Via National Portrait Gallery

To speak ill of the dead is usually considered disrespectful and to raise a parting glass to celebrate the passing of a former human being is, in some quarters, viewed as a mortal sin. So there will be no ill words here and any glasses raised will be purely in the name of alcohol addiction.

The eulogies and obituaries for the late Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley indicate a life lived in two, or possibly four, parts. In public life he is described as a firebrand, a campaigner, a man of God and in private life a gentle, caring and witty family man of God. Before 2007 he was an extremist and after 2007 he was a peacemaker. In life he preached hatred but now in death he is described as charismatic and charming. He was only 88 and had a dickey heart but he had so much more to give. In terms of reputation, dying was probably his smartest move.

For all his considerable qualities, his faith was the most enduring. Realising that only he could understand and interpret the true word of God, he started his own religion. To spread the good news of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, he published his own newspaper; the wonderfully named Protestant Telegraph. He decided that the evil in the world was due to “Papist Conspiracy” and that little bowls of dried stuff should be banned because there must be “No Popery” in the north of Ireland. Realising that his world view could not be simply be imposed from the pulpit, he started his own political party and the Democratic Unionist Party set about ridding the island of Ireland of “papists”, snakes, gay people and just about anyone who didn`t agree with the Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley. He launched the “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign in 1977 to a mixture of hilarity and genuine fear and taking time off as a recruiting sergeant for the murderous bastards in the Provisional IRA, inadvertently did more for Gay rights in the island of Ireland than Graham Norton.

Realising that the north of Ireland needed doctors to treat people torn apart by car bombs and bullet wounds, the Reverend became a Doctor. He received an honorary doctorate of divinity from the Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. I have no idea who Bob Jones is or was but his university seems to be teaching religious intolerance, bigotry, sexist, racism, hatred, homophobia and nonsense and is a contributor to the United States Republican Party.

Emboldened, the Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley became an MEP and took the rational decision to shout: “I denounce you as the Antichrist” at Pope John Paul II when the Vicar of Rome addressed the European Parliament in 1988. The Antichrist looked on in baffled amusement as incredulous fellow MEPs bundled the Reverend Doctor out of the chamber. When a previous Pope, John XXIII, died in 1963, the Reverend Doctor organised protests when it was suggested that flags on public buildings be flown at half-mast. Flags seem to be significant in the mindset of Rev.Dr. Paisley. During the 1964 General Election, a Republican candidate dared to display the Irish flag in a window and so outraged the Reverend Doctor that he organised a mob to remove it. Some historians claim that the ensuing “Tricolour Riots” were the spark for the following troubles.

The Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley, as a man of God, was unfortunately not very bright. He consistently confused Republicanism with Catholicism and conflated the idea that the thugs, gangsters and butchers of the Provisional IRA were under the direct command of the Pope. This is as preposterous as suggesting that the thugs, gangsters and butchers of the Ulster Volunteer Force, Third Force and Ulster Resistance were under direct control of the Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley.

Much has been made of Ian Paisley`s role as a peacemaker after a lifetime of bigotry and ignorant hatred. There is speculation that a brush with death and a quiet word from God allowed him to enter into government with a former IRA commander now representing Sinn Fein and that after fierce resistance to the Good Friday Agreement could not resist the vacancy of First Minister. If that makes him a peacemaker, the late Mo Mowlam is surely a saint.

It is wrong to speak ill of the dead and I`m sure his family must be devastated by the absence of shouting and fist waving. If these words cause offence, I`m sure that Ian Paisley`s forgiving God will forgive me. I`m not so sure he will forgive Ian Paisley.

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