Out To Lunch: Ian Paisley

The former First Minister discusses an eventful career in politics at the 2011 Out To Lunch lecture series at Queen's University

Former Northern Ireland First Minister, Ian Paisley passed away on September 12, 2014. Here, the Unionist firebrand, peace builder, preacher and statesman discusses his career at the puplit and in politics in conversation with broadcaster, William Crawley.

This in depth conversation – in which Paisley reveals his admiration for Martin McGuinness, describes Tony Blair as a 'strange character' and Bill Clinton as 'no friend of mine', amongst other things – was recorded in the Great Hall at Queen's University as part of the 2011 Out To Lunch lecture series.

'[Martin McGuinness] took some risks. For a Sinn Fein leader to call other Republicans traitors when there was the shooting of the two Army men, I mean that was a very tough thing to say… We got on well together because we had a good foundation, and as long as we kept to that foundation all was well… There were some individual matters that he had, home matters of people being ill and his mother being ill, and we prayed together. Well, I did the praying and he did the listening, but he wanted me to do it… I offered prayer for him, and I think that was the right thing to do, and I don’t care what people say. I hope that I have the same heart that Christ had, a love for others who needed help at times of need.'

'It’s not for me to interfere in things that I no longer can make a useful contribution to. I would like to think that all parties who want to talk to me feel free to talk to me. If I can give up my experience to them, I’d be happy so to do. But I don’t think that I should be sitting in a back room with a big stick [saying] “I’ll bring that fella in and talk to him”. I think that that’s not the case for somebody who is withdrawing from certain things. He should withdraw... I have made no contribution to that [the Robinson affair], and I don’t want to. I feel that that is something that has to be decided by those who are in the government at the moment. I think that you would know what my view is on that, but I don’t need to tell people.'

'I think that there needs to be a top minister… we have to have a joint government at the moment. I would hope that we would develop into a full democracy, eventually. It would be a matter for… whoever won the election, but we’re far from that at the moment.'

'Every Roman Catholic doesn’t want to be in the south of Ireland. My opinion is that we should leave well enough alone and not try to solve something that, after all, has a question mark over [it].'

'Mr Blair is a strange character… One day he rang me from Florida. It was the first of the year, and on New Year’s Day he rang me seven times with changes and sentences to the document. Seven times! He said, “Ian, could you not agree to that?” “No.” He said, “What kind of a man are you?” I said, “I’m glad I’m not a man like you.” We had it very tough.'

'[Bill Clinton is] no friend of mine. Actually, it was in this university that I met him. It was here that we had our talks, and they were terrible. Of course, that was the morning he had shaken hands with Gerry Adams. At that time, you will remember, my MEP voters on the Shankill Road had just had that terrible bombing, that killing, and I was very angry with him. He was to see me by myself; he was to bring somebody and I was to bring somebody. He had 40 people at that meeting, 40! All the bigwigs. So I must say, me and Clinton had a rough, rough ride. And I got the better of him that day.'

'[Jim McAllister is] a disappointment. I expected that he wouldn’t be a help, and he isn’t a help. But the people will put their Xs someday. A great day is coming. We will see then exactly what the people think of him, for it’s what they think of him, and not what I think of him, that matters.'

'I’m just a preacher of the gospel, that’s what I am, I was called to be. And I am trying, with all the strength left in me, to manifest that to Roman Catholic people, Protestant people and all sorts of people… in my constituency, no Roman Catholic person has ever said “Ian Paisley has treated us badly.” I have fought hard for my Roman Catholic constituents.'

'Scotchmen should run Scotland. Welshmen should run Wales. Englishmen should stay at home and run their own country, and I, as an Ulsterman, should help to run mine… I resent, very strongly, when I’m sitting in the House of Commons, to be treated as if we were just an appendices, and we’ll do what we’re told. Well, they’ll find out that Ulster people don’t do what they're told. I wish they would read their history books, and maybe we can get Carson out of his grave again [to] help us in the battle.'

'Well, I wouldn’t be the man that I am, only for her [Baroness Paisley]. She has stood by me. She has lectured me. Sometimes she has tried to bully me. But I take it all gracefully.'