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Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas

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Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

Ian Paisley
by Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press
Protestant firebrand quitting

Protestant firebrand quitting in Northern Ireland
 
BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Throughout Ulster's dark decades of 
war, Ian Paisley was the loudest and most charismatic voice on 
the battlefield, rallying Protestants in the hundreds of 
thousands against compromise with Catholics. 
"No surrender!" he cried. 
Less than a year after stunning this British territory by making 
peace with his enemies, Paisley declared his lifetime's work 
done. His decision to form a government alongside a former Irish 
Republican Army commander, he said, "was the right thing to do." 
The 81-year-old evangelist announced he'd quit in Mayas leader 
of the fledgling Protestant-Catholic government and also would 
surrender the reins of the Democratic Unionist Party he founded 
37 years ago. 
Analysts, colleagues and foes called it the end of an era. 
Paisley said he picked May to quit because he'll be able to 
preside over an international investment conference in Belfast 
featuring potential U.S. investors. 
He also expects praise in April from a string of visiting 
dignitaries, including former British Prime Minister Tony Bllair 
and former President Clinton, when Northern Ireland commemorates 
the 10th anniversary of the U.S. brokered Good Friday accord­a 
power-sharing plan Paisley initially opposed. 
Only a few years ago, the idea of Paisley cooperating with the 
leaders of the IRA ­linked Sinn Fein - people he denounced as 
"bloodthirsty monsters" in alliance with the devil - seemed 
impossible. 
But the anti-Catholic preacher responded decisively after winning 
a string of key concessions from his enemies: the IRA's 200 
disarmament and renunciation of violence, as well as Sinn Fein's 
2007 vote to accept the authority of the Northern Ireland police. 
Ever since Paisley began leading an administration alongside 
veteran IRA commander Martin McGuinness, observers had waited 
vain for them to trade insults and split. Instead, the pair 
appeared joking together frequently. 
The British and Irish government - who long dismissed Paisley as 
a hate-monger and destructive bigot and froze him out of 
negotiations from 1996 to 2003 - praised him recently as the one 
figure powerful enough among Protestants to make stable power 
sharing with Sinn Fein work. 
"Was there anyone else who could have carried it?" I very much 
doubt that," said Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahem, who forged a 
warm public relationship with Paisley over the past year. 
"Ian Paisley's contribution to peace, after all the years of 
division and difference, was decisive. The man famous for saying 
'no' will go down in history for saying 'yes,' said Blair, who 
with Ahem oversaw Belfast negotiations that produced the Good 
Friday pact. 
Paisley said he'd play no role in anointing a successor - and 
took a jovial swipe at his oldest enemy. 
"This is not the Church of Rome," he said, chuckling. "This is 
not apostolic succession and I have no right to say who will 
succeed me." 
Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press