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Ian Paisley: Catholics treated unfairly in 1960s Northern Ireland

Jan. 10, 2014 at 1:41 AM   |   Comments

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The Rev. Ian Paisley, the Protestant firebrand turned politician, now says Catholics were treated unfairly in Northern Ireland in the 1960s.

Paisley, 87, spent hours being interviewed by the BBC, the Independent reported. Selections from those interviews are to be broadcast in two parts, with the first airing Monday.

"The whole system was wrong," he said. "It wasn't one man-one vote. A fair government is that every man has the same power to vote for what he wants."

But he also suggested Irish republicans and civil rights leaders went too far in their opposition, leading to the long period known as "the Troubles."

Paisley served as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party from 1971 to his retirement in 2008. He was first minister of Northern Ireland from 2007 to 2008 and became so friendly with his deputy, Martin McGuinness of the republican Sinn Fein party, that reporters nicknamed them the "Chuckle Brothers."

Paisley said he has always been against violence. But he suggested the Irish government provoked two 1974 bombings carried out by loyalists in the Republic, although he denied being involved, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

"The political leaders brought it on themselves," he said.

One thing that has not changed is Paisley's aversion to Roman Catholicism as a religion. Paisley, once ejected from the European Parliament chamber for holding a sign calling John Paul II the "antichrist" while the pope was speaking and accused the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret of "spiritual fornication" for having a papal audience, refused to apologize for that language, the Independent said.

"That was the language of Luther and Calvin and Protestantism, and I have no apology to make for being a Protestant," he told the BBC.

But Paisley said he loves "the poor dupes" who belong to the Catholic Church.

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