LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Finlay writes in support of late Ian Paisley

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Dear Sir,

I feel compelled to write following the disgraceful and wholly unwarranted attacks launched on my late friend and party colleague, Lord Bannside.

The tirade of abuse began, of course, with Sir James Galway in his rant on the radio, and that was swiftly followed by similar nonsense from Lord Trimble.

Suddenly, it seems as if it’s open season on Dr Paisley, and not only has any pretence of balance been lost but facts have also been cast aside. So too, it seems, has any shred of compassion for Baroness Paisley and her family.

Just like the rest of us, Dr Paisley was not without his faults and weaknesses, but there is absolutely no justification for the sort of revisionism and distortion of history that we have witnessed in recent days. I repudiate and treat with utter contempt the scurrilous allegation that Dr Paisley was responsible for the Troubles. Such an assertion simply does not stand up to objective and balanced scrutiny.

I first met Ian Paisley when I was a boy of eight, and I have many fond memories of him. I am old enough to remember something of the early days of civil unrest, and it was clear to many of us that, in the face of a resurgent nationalism and republicanism, Ian Paisley was the only man who was truly able to articulate what we were feeling.

In those dark days, he offered clear leadership and we rightly saw him as our political and spiritual leader. As well as total commitment to principle, he had tremendous warmth of personality, which is why he was loved as well as respected, and that is why many of us find the recent attacks upon him so offensive.

I have never wavered in my support for the “Big Man” and sometimes I still find it hard to take in that he has gone from us.

Yes he has gone, but he will never be forgotten and he will always be revered by those of us who were privileged to have him as our leader. Ian Paisley was a big man in every way, and those petty-minded individuals who are now lambasting him would not be fit to lace his shoes.

Yours sincerely

John Finlay

Cloughmills