Goodbye, Ian

Mar 5th, 2008 | By | Category: Ireland

So he’s going, at last.

Let’s remember the reality:

“So the slide is on. The downgrade is about. Well thank God my Saviour still reigns. It says He is consuming Antichrist. At this very moment what does He consume the Antichrist with? With the Words of His mouth, the Power of His Holy Word, for Rome cannot stand up to the Word of the Living God. That is the sword that penetrates even the entrails of the Pope and brings him down, the Word of the Living God.

He will destroy him, with the words of His mouth, He will consume him and He will destroy him with the brightness of His coming.

One day that old hoary Rome, hoary with sins and idolatries, will perish and a cry will resound in heaven “Babylon is fallen”. There will be a hallelujah as that great deceiver of the nations comes to the day of final and total judgment by the true Christ whom I love and serve”.

Anyone who lived in Northern Ireland between the 1960s and recent times would have been familiar with such preaching, those words were preached in October 2000. His roaring voice would be familiar to millions around the world. “No Pope here” will echo around Irish history books for decades to come.

And what was it all about? What were three decades of violence and bloodshed and slaughter and carnage all about? The great demagogue, the man who will have no truck with liberals, or ecumenists, or Romanists, sat down in the end with an IRA man. The man whose rhetoric shaped the bullets for others to fire, suddenly decided to talk.

The men and women of integrity in the North, those who sought to build peace, those who tried to follow the path Jesus and of reconciliation, had to endure years of vilification and insults from the so called “big man”. Where I served as curate, the local follower of the champion of anti-Popery used to take out half page advertisements in the local newspaper denouncing the Church of Ireland as “apostate” and my Rector, a good and kindly man, as a “traitor.”

What was it all for? I read once that in the days before the violence broke out he had young Bernadette in his house; she sat with the tea in a china cup balanced on her knees. Would it have been too much then for the man to have had some humility and to accept that others also had their beliefs and convictions?

What was it all for? My mind wanders to David McKittrick’s huge book “Lost Lives”, an account of each and every person lost in the thirty odd years of violence. Lost for what? Those whose pain never goes away must have wondered why it all happened.

What was it all for, Ian?

– this is a post from October 2006 reworked

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  1. I’m always a bit shy of commenting on this sort of thing because my understanding of it is so glib but any man with that level of intolerance is better off in a retirement home. I notice at 82 he’s still going to be in the ministry.It’s like every conflict lost lives are forgotten except by those who were intimately involved – Vietnam is now a holiday destination! It seems so sanitary to talk of those times as “The Troubles” when it was so much more.

    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!

    Good riddance.

  2. Will the handover be strife free? I wonder!

  3. Ian,

    Billy, who has physical scars from the troubles as well as mental ones only those who experienced it can understand, sat watching the news yesterday and said, ‘Thank god he’s going. He started it all and hopefully he’s ended it.’ This from someone who grew up in a staunchly loyalist area of North Belfast. You wonder how much blood is on the hands of the likes of Mr Paisley and his clan.

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