Independent TD Mattie McGrath has been speaking in reaction to the death of the Rev Ian Paisley who is due to be buried privately today in Co. Down. Deputy McGrath made his comments as the historical and political analysis of Rev Paisley’s legacy continues to cause bitter divisions among those who see him as a latter champion of peace or as an individual who stoked the flames of sectarian bigotry for his own narrow agenda:
“While on a personal level the loss of Ian Paisley will be a sad and challenging time for his family and in particular for his wife Eileen and their children, we should not allow that to deflect us from engaging in an honest assessment of this individual’s legacy.
As a member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Association (BIPA) for the last number of years I have worked hard, along with my UK colleagues to build up relationships of trust and mutual understanding.
However, all of us have emerged from an historical context in which the rhetoric of Rev Paisley, which was clearly inflammatory and dangerous, also served to delay by many years the possibility of reconciliation among the Catholic and Protestant communities in the north.
I have no doubt that this man’s legacy will be a fiercely fought battleground and that even after his death he will continue to inspire strong and complex reactions,” concluded Deputy McGrath.