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Irish Protestant leader puts curse on Thatcher

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- The Rev. Ian Paisley, the fiery Protestant leader who organized Saturday's protest against the Anglo-Irish accord, is so incensed at British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that he placed a curse on her.

Last week, in a rage over a pact to give Dublin an advisory role in Ulster to safeguard the rights of the minority 600,000 Catholics, Paisley condemned Thatcher from the pulpit of his splinter Presbytarian church in Belfast.

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'Oh God,' he cried into his church's three microphones, one of which is linked to a recording studio. 'We call upon Thee, we pray this night, that Thou wouldst deal with the Prime Minister of our country...

'In the name of the Blessed Thyself, Father, Son and Holy Ghost - we hand this woman, Margaret Thatcher over to the Devil that she might learn not to blaspheme. We pray that the world may learn a lesson through her fall and through the igonominy to which she shall be brought. Oh God, in wrath, take vengeance upon this wicked, trecherous, lying woman.'

Earlier, he had given a speech calling Thatcher a 'Jezebel.' The 'Jezebel speech,' as it has become known, is selling strongly among Protestant followers at a non-profit price of $2.10 per copy.

Paisley on Saturday again attacked Thatcher in front of a cheering crowd of 100,000 Protestants, who later hoisted an effigy of the British leader on a pole and cheered wildly as it was set afire.

'Mrs. Thatcher says the Republic must have some say in the running of this province,' he boomed. 'We say never, never, never.... We shall win this battle. God help the men who dare take it from us.'

Paisley, 59, Ulster's leading Protestant politician, first received public attention in the early 1960s when he put a curse on an opponent who sought rapprochment with the Irish republic in the south.

In 1974, he again placed a curse on a political rival who worked for an unsuccessful power-sharing agreement between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

Paisley's pulpit is linked to a recording studio in his church and his sermons are reproduced on a fast copier in time for worshippers who line up for them at the end of services.

The British media has denounced him for his oratory and the Daily Express newspaper called his speeches a 'gospel of hate.'

With a booming voice, Paisley is reputed to have begun preaching at 16 but in 1951 he broke from the Presbyterian Church and set up the splinter Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

He organized rallies and demonstrations by Protestants bitter about Catholic attempts to reunite the province, and was elected to the British Parliament in 1970. He formed his own party, the Democratic Unionist Party, in 1971 and it is the second largest Protestant political party in Ulster, behind the Official Unionist Party.

But as Ulster's most charismatic leader, the father of five has emerged as the chief spokesman for Protestants in the north.

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