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Paisley, Revd Ian

Paisley, Revd Ian (b. 1926). The voice of intransigent Ulster unionism and anti-catholicism, Paisley's massive physical presence and booming voice is in the 19th-cent. Ulster evangelical tradition. He co-founded the Free Presbyterian Church (1951), and vigorously campaigned against the ecumenical movement. He led the resistance to the reforms of the O'Neill government from 1963 onwards, and rallied traditional loyalist support against the civil rights movement from 1967. Paisley launched the virulently anti-catholic, anti-communist Protestant Telegraph and Ulster Constitution Defence Committee 1966. He stood against O'Neill in the 1969 Stormont election, was narrowly defeated, but was instrumental in O'Neill's fall. He became MP in 1970 and formed the Democratic Unionist Party in 1971, trumping competition from the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party to represent working-class loyalism. His support was well beyond the confines of his church and he challenged the position of the middle-class Unionist Party. Paisley supported the Ulster workers' strike in 1974 which destroyed the power-sharing executive; opposed the Sunningdale agreement 1973, the Anglo-Irish agreement 1985, the Downing Street declaration 1993. A member of the European Parliament since 1979, Paisley is the most successful electoral vote-winner in the province. A vociferous opponent of the ‘peace-process’, which he denounced as a sell-out to terrorism, his party did well in the 2001 general election, winning Belfast North, Londonderry East, and Strangford from the Ulster Unionists, but losing Antrim South to them. At the general election of 2005, Paisley's DUP overtook its Ulster Unionist rivals as the largest loyalist party. In 2007 he became First Minister of the power-sharing executive.

Michael Hopkinson

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Paisley, Ian Richard Kyle

Ian Richard Kyle Paisley (pāz´lē), 1926–2014, Northern Irish religious and political leader. For many years a leading protagonist of militant Protestantism against Roman Catholicism in Northern Ireland, Paisley was ordained as a Protestant minister in 1946. In 1951 he helped found the fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, noted for its virulent antiecumenism. In the late 1960s he led numerous anti-Catholic marches, and he was jailed in 1966 and again in 1969 for heading demonstrations that ended in rioting. Running on a platform to end all reforms intended to help the Catholic minority, he was elected to the Northern Irish Parliament (1970–72); he also served in the British House of Commons (1970–2010).

In 1971, Paisley founded the Democratic Unionist party, which supported total integration of Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom. He backed a strike by Protestant workers that brought about the collapse (1974) of the new coalition executive council and the reimposition of direct British rule. In 1985 he accused British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of treachery when she signed the Anglo-Irish accord, giving Ireland consultative rights in the government of Northern Ireland, and he opposed the 1998 Northern Irish peace accord, which allowed Sinn Féin to participate in the Northern Irish government.

Paisley was elected to the Northern Irish assembly in 1999, and his party won a plurality of seats in that body in 2003 and 2007. Following the 2007 elections, Paisley agreed to enter a power-sharing government with Sinn Féin, which had become the largest Catholic party in the assembly; Paisley became first minister. He retired as first minister and party leader in 2008, and was created Baron Bannside in 2010.

See biographies by E. Moloney and A. Pollak (1986), C. Smyth (1987), and D. Cooke (1996); studies by S. Bruce (1986, repr. 2007), E. Maloney (2008), D. Gordon (2009), and R. L. Jordan (2013).

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Paisley, Ian

Paisley, Ian (1926– ) Northern Irish politician and clergyman. In 1951, he formed the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. Paisley was elected to Parliament in 1970. In 1972, he formed the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party. An outspoken defender of Protestant Unionism, Paisley briefly resigned over the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. In 1979, he was elected to the European Parliament.

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Paisley, Ian

Paisley, Ian

Ian Paisley (1926–), fundamentalist and unionist political leader, was born in Armagh city on 6 April. His father, a Baptist minister, formed a breakaway congregation in 1933. After training at evangelical colleges in Wales and Belfast, Ian Paisley became minister of an east Belfast fundamentalist congregation in 1946. In 1951 he founded the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, attracting defectors from mainstream Protestant churches. Its non-Presbyterian features include Paisley's status as "moderator for life." (Paisley's ordination is unrecognized by mainstream Presbyterians.) During the 1950s Paisley was active in working-class unionist politics. An outspoken opponent of religious ecumenism and Northern Ireland's prime minister, Terence O'Neill, Paisley was briefly imprisoned for public-order offenses in 1966. Paisley reacted to the civil-rights movement with provocative counter-demonstrations that further destabilized Northern Ireland.

In 1970 Paisley won the Stormont by-election that was prompted by O'Neill's resignation, then took the North Antrim seat at the 1970 Westminster general election. In 1971 he founded the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Throughout the 1970s the DUP grew by denouncing compromise, deploying menacing street protests against any hint of compromise, and outmaneuvering less adroit rival hardliners. (Paisley is frequently accused of inciting loyalists and sanctimoniously dissociating himself when they get caught.) Some officials hoped that Paisley might deliver compromise where moderates had failed, but he remained a reactive and opportunistic figure unwilling to risk his popularity. In 1979 Paisley topped the Northern Ireland poll in the European Parliament elections, his personal popularity far outstripping that of his party. By the 1981 local elections, the DUP had drawn level with the Ulster Unionist Party in votes received and had acquired several talented young activists associated with Paisley's deputy and quasi-rival Peter Robinson. (Paisley's immediate family are prominent in both his party and church.) Paisley dominated the unionist front against the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement; the perceived impotence of his street politics convinced some unionists that they needed to influence future developments by participating in negotiations. Paisley walked out of the talks leading to the 1998 Belfast Agreement, marking the final breakdown of the unionist front. Despite his defeat in the 1998 referendum and health problems, Paisley retained the support of half the unionist community; the DUP benefited by denouncing the Belfast Agreement while taking advantage of devolution. (Paisley characteristically refused ministerial office.) Paisley is seen by international audiences as embodying unionism; his booming Ballymena voice (cultivated as a contrast to the strangulated tones of upper-class unionism) was frequently caricatured. His good-humored image conceals a reactive, irresponsible, and ultimately destructive career.

SEE ALSO Loyalist Paramilitaries after 1965; Presbyterianism; Ulster Politics under Direct Rule

Bibliography

Bruce, Steve. God Save Ulster! The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism. 1986.

Cooke, Denis. Persecuting Zeal: A Portrait of Ian Paisley. 1996.

Moloney, Ed, and Andy Pollak. Paisley. 1986.

Smyth, Clifford. Ian Paisley: Voice of Protestant Ulster. 1987.

Patrick Maume

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