Praying for Paisley

Ian Paisley is said to be seriously ill. He may be approaching the end of his life, his only life. His 85 years in this innings have not been some practice run for the next one. This is it. As they used to say at the close of the movie in the cinema – THE END. That’s the thing about life, as those clued in get it:  nobody yet has survived the experience. It never ends in anything other than destruction.

I don’t harbour the desire for some sort of painful end for those with whom I have clashed. It strikes me as tasteless. The morbid delight some derive at others hurtling towards the finishing line has no traction in my mind.  It is a sentiment I have never had reason to warm to and every reason to find repellent.  If they go, they go. I don’t want to be hovering there like a buzzard waiting to feast. While remaining conscious of Salman Rushdie’s admonition against sentimentality that when tyrants fall only hypocrites grieve, dancing on the grave is not for me. The Let’s Party when Thatcher dies mentality, with its ‘ding dong the bitch is dead’, sing-along, ranks with the perverse.  If it is infectious it has thus far spared me.  Fionola Meredith’s take in The Belfast Telegraph is not devoid of reason when she waves away the cheerleaders for the dying.

Ian Paisley was the big beast of bigotry. He may have salivated at the taste of office in the end and acquired the right amount of manners to get his feet under the top table but the staple diet for decades was coarse and crude bigotry, and lots of it: as much as could be dolloped on. If he expires I will not grieve. Grief, like courage, is very much a finite resource, and needs to be used sparingly. There are too many that I do care about who face problems, for me to use up sympathy on those I care nothing for. Yet his death will not be a joyous occasion. He has family who love him and who have experienced him in a completely different light from many of my persuasion. What benefit in shouting yaboo yaboo other than to show that the shouters are as sick as they believe Paisley to be?

I read somewhere that the Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson has called for prayers for Ian Paisley. When I read that type of suggestion I always think why not sacrifice a goat! It will have the same effect as doing a rain dance in the mid day sun. There is nothing out there that listens to prayers or derives perverse satisfaction from sacrifices. If Martina Anderson does believe in god is he going to listen to her prayers more than he will listen to the prayers of those pleading for Paisley’s demise? The whole lot of them praying to a compassionate god that he might demonstrate his mercy by letting Paisley live ... or die. At such times I am reminded of the observation that you know god is on your side when he hates the same people you do. 

It is probably a generous comment from Anderson given some of the ungenerous things Paisley’s son has said about her. But generous need not be genuine and her call for prayer may be more for the political optics: look at how tolerant we are. And in our act of tolerance we make the other lot seem intolerant. 

Looking back on his 85 years, big Paisley is astute enough to see through the guff. He knows the amount of people he has shafted and riled. It might just occur to him with one last chuckle that the most honest epitaph he is likely to receive is ‘Not Wanted – Dead or Alive.’


  1. Martina was merely repeating the call from the 'First' minister and his deputy for 'prayerful support' for the rev. I find it interesting, given that Paisley is a self proclaimed big time believer in the Christian God, none of the others, by the way, just that one, that his fellow believers may be praying for his survival or, in other words, trying to deny him his goal of 'heaven' while his enemies are praying for him to die, thus hastening his voyage to over yonder where he longs to be. Weird business.

  2. Good i was hoping u would write on this... was exellent reading. Merediths take was real... clued in. I u/stand vengefulness & delighting in his inevitable carking it but also u/stand how delighting in this man's death poisons one up... He has blood on his hands for sure lots of it but when his heartbeat ceases there will be others just as odious to replace him.
    Like u said conserve ones energy... so true so true..
    The real complexity is the prayer number... I cringe the way Ireland still does that number...
    Are people praying for a quick death or are some praying for the flames of hell to lick his bigoted old arse forever... Or is it simply the same old crap people trot out to look mature/contained?
    When i worked in terminal care for a long time i noticed how upon pending death of some horrendous person there was this unwarranted sentimental type psuedo wording of forgiveness giftwrapped on the outside with relevant Christian scriptures/platitudes
    VERSUS outright hate/glee (ie) "F..k em rot in hell.."
    I am somewhere in between both of these.
    Like Germaine greer said "life all ends badly anyway" ahaha i love that. Paisley Senior will be forever linked to graveyards & death whether he died or not. The Beast of Bigotry will no doubt soon draw his last breath out of that big, toothy mouth of his but who has won?

  3. SMH,

    Greer got it right. maybe it was from her I got it a long time ago!


    'Weird business' - it is a business that relies on the wierd!

  4. Paisley,s passing will be all the better when his bigoted wife joins him,I,m sorry he may get out of here without facing a judge and jury,for I firmly believe that he like Thatcher,Blair and many others should have been tried for crimes against humanity,if I,m honest I may shed a tear,not for him but for the lives he destroyed and pity! yes its a pity society could tolerate such a vile piece of work and yet not only was he tolerated he was venerated and his family live dare I say it like lords of the kudos his bigotry earned them,and now as they lower the final curtain I hope the image of Bombay st burning is formost in his evil old head fuck him is all I can say.

  5. Anthony the annoying thing about being atheists is that we will never have the satisfaction of telling believers "WE TOLD YOU SO" Mark Steels original quote.

  6. Marty,

    while I don't share the sentiment there is something to be said for blunt talking. This reminds me of George Carlin who was doing a gig and commented on a contractor beheaded in Iraq and he said 'Fuck him.' He followed up with something to the effect that he should have stayed at home in Oaklahoma where they don't chop heads off.

  7. Mackers,
    I think the most profound words written in relation to the self styled Reverend came from yourself, 'not wanted dead or alive'
    I can understand a lot of what Finola Meredith says. However, Finola may have had a very different take had her vision not been slighted skewed and her life more than a bit sheltered in middle-class suburbia.
    The Reverend was a ghoul in every sense of the word.
    A fire and brimstone preacher who not only filled his sermons but the graveyards.
    I believe everyone is entitled to a degree of dignity in death. Sadly though, like Murphy and Wright his passage out of this world will be undeservedly a lot more fitting than many of their innocent victims.

  8. Just thinking about Fionola Meredth,s take in the "Tele"Was she perhaps acting as an advance guard preparing us the lumpenproletariat for a sanitized version of Paisley,s life and death,leading up to calls for a state funeral,after all the sight of thousands of people in norn iorn chucking flowers at his hearse would make the people on the "mainland" and further afield wonder were they witnessing a miracle of reconciliation,or is norn iorn inhabited by loads of bigots,I would prefer to send lord Bannside down the river Bann in flaming boat with Mc Crea and the rest of those poisonous vermin who parade as men of god.

  9. People are free to feel as they want about the living or the dead. I don't think it is wise to start policing feelings and sentiment. We can dissent ferom them but not tell people they cannot hold them. Paisley did a lot of harm to many people and caused a lot of misery. He churned out hate by the skipful. I just agree with Fionola Meredith on the matter. If Paisley collapsed on the street would we refuse to administer assistance? I would give it.

  10. NOPE I wouldnt help nor would I have tried to save Hilter either,

  11. Mackers,
    Is Finola not policing sentiment a little bit. I know her, she part taught on a module I was taking once and I found her to be an extremely genuine person.
    However, in relation to Big Ian. I suppose it depends on the shoes you have walked in. Finola Meredith would definitely not harbour the same thoughts on Paisley as I would. Is she right am I wrong? Who knows? It all comes down to life experience and personal interpretation.
    I would never glorify in anyones death but I think I would be looking the other way if he ever required assistance.

  12. Very good piece,

    Paisley is/was about as good an example of the Orange State in human form as we are likely to see. His reincarnation as a good old boy over the last decade was because he believed his side had won, and he could afford to be charitable in victory. Nothing more nothing less.

    The chuckle brothers routine was one of the most despicable things to come out of this whole struggle, as it allowed paisley to be portrayed as something he undoubtedly was not. He was a nasty religious bigot, and like most of this type he had a political bent which was totally based on self interest.

    As to State funeral's, they tell us more about the state than the individuals interned.

  13. Nuala,

    I didn't take it that FM was policing sentiment. She expressed a view on the matter as I did myself and I never felt I was trying to police anything. I suppose if she was trying to create a moral discourse that rewarded people for conforming and punished those who didn't it would be policing opinion. Thus far I have not seen that.

    I think there is a basic human convention that we assist the distressed. I know when doctors in the Blocks during the blanket abandoned that convention it infuriated me. I suppose there is a moral code that determines how we treat enemies and opponents. I would not deny Paisley medical aid or assistance.

    I think of those republican families that gave aid to wounded British soldiers or whispered acts of contrition in their ears. I always thought that more admirable than the act of turning away.

  14. Hell of a difference to assisting a combatant in a war than providing aid to the fucker that started it Anthony ..

  15. Marty,

    there are either minimum human standards or there are not

  16. Mackers,
    Albert asked, would that assistance/ intervention include mouth to mouth. Seriously though,
    like Marty I don't see Paisley as some sort of opposing soldier type.
    I look on him as the mouth who gave moral credence to the equally ghoul like types of Murphy and Wright, would I have assisted either of those two absolutely not.

  17. Nuala,

    the same rule for all Nuala. Start denying medical aid to the injured and we don't know where it ends.

  18. What did the goat do to anybody?