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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Unpleasant Paisley Swirls

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 6th April 2010

In my final piece on the forthcoming British elections, I thought I'd deal with the question of Northern Ireland and its benighted, militant fundamentalist Democratic Unionist Party.
The DUP was founded in 1971 by Reverend Ian Paisley (1926- ), infamous for his anti-Catholic sectarian outbursts and consistent denial of civil rights and social justice for Catholics, culminating in the resurgence of IRA armed struggle which blighted the six counties for over a quarter of a century. However, Paisley didn't only hate Catholics, as he also organised a "Save Ulster from Sodomy" campaign (1977-1982), which sought to unsuccessfully prevent the extension of the UK Sexual Offences Act and its partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality to Northern Ireland. After Dudgeon versus Northern Ireland in the European Court of Human Rights, it finally lost. The DUP shouldn't be confused with the older and more moderate Ulster Unionist Party (which is similarly socially conservative on LGBT issues, however).
Fortunately, sanity prevailed. Amidst thawing Anglo-Irish relations, the DUP was forced to concede that Sinn Fein (radical Irish nationalists) had relinquished armed struggle and disarmed the IRA, leading to questions about devolved power in a new Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly. It bickers with the UUP over the hearts and souls of the Ulster Protestant communities, while manifesting a venomous brand of fundamentalism. It advocates creationist intelligent design and is adamantly opposed to LGBT rights.
However, the Blair and Brown administrations have been equally adamant when it comes to Clause 28 repeal, age of consent equality, antidiscrimination laws, civil partnerships and adoption law reform, despite troglodyte howls from Paisley's equally backward son, Ian Paisley Jnr, embattled First Minister Peter Robinson and his woeful adulterous spouse, ex-DUP MP/MLA Iris Robinson. And then there's Paul Berry, the ex-DUP local councillor caught in a compromising position with a gay male masseur in a hotel, nor to mention Ian Paisley Jnr's double dipping in terms of DUP constituency research work, or questions about real estate transactions, or Peter Robinson's financial dealings.
Despite externally imposed LGBT-affirmative legislative reforms as part of the price of unity within the United Kingdom, Ulster still remains strongly hostile to LGBT rights due to the strength of militant Protestant fundamentalism. Ulster women still have to travel across the Irish Sea for abortion access, as Paisley's fanatical anti-Catholicism doesn't extend to opposing conservative Catholic anti-abortion co-belligerency. Paisley is now eighty three. He ceded DUP leadership to Peter Robinson, which has proven problematic given the latter's current financial mire. More recently, he has also announced his retirement from political life at the forthcoming UK elections in May 2010.
Is Britain's "Bible Belt" about to loosen a notch?

Steve Bruce: Religion and Politics in Northern Ireland: Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2007.
Democratic Unionist Party:
Ian Paisley: European Institute of Protestant Studies:

Craig Young - 6th April 2010

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