Paisley has gone to his eternal reward or his eternal retribution — cross out whichever you think doesn’t apply.
No doubt he’ll find himself in a place full of papists, sodomites and playgrounds that open on Sundays, and no doubt he’ll set about changing things, wherever he happens to be. But he might find that the locals aren’t so keen on a bug-eyed loudmouth trying to shout them down just as, in the end, even the loyalists grew sick of him.
Where are you leading us, Ian? asked an exasperated PUP ex-gunman as the Reverend Paisley protested outside Stormont against the Good Friday Agreement. Where indeed? Where did he ever lead them but on pointless marches against other working-class people like themselves, civil rights, against agreements, against peace?
That man stirred up sectarian hatred wherever he went while at the same time hypocritically denouncing those he called terrorists, but never speaking out against the vileness of the UDA and the UVF.
Even though his fears of Popery were well-founded, as we saw south of the border with the grip of the Catholic clergy on health and education, Paisley seemed quite unaware of how ludicrous his own position was. A clergyman in a parliament loyal to a hereditary monarch was denouncing the Republic as a theocracy even though not a single priest had ever been elected to public office.
It doesn’t matter that Paisley had a reputation as a good constituency worker who represented all his constituents without regard to religious affiliation. It doesn’t matter that in private he was known as a courteous and considerate individual. It doesn’t matter that he joined the Chuckle Brothers in the dimming of his years.
The fact is that Paisley was a two-faced, attention-seeking hypocrite, who would privately shake your hand and wish you well, before stepping on stage and slipping into character, stirring up hatred against you and your kind. He was in the final analysis, an unprincipled ham-actor, driven by religious insanity like so many of the Catholic ideologues we still have south of the border. I’ll give him no credit for his part in the peace process. He opposed it all the way and only joined in when he calculated that there was glory to be had.
For Paisley’s sake, I hope there is an afterlife so that he’ll be able to see what a malign, poisonous influence he exerted on this island, north and south, but I can’t mourn this man’s passing.