Paisley, Ian Richard Kyle

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Paisley, Ian Richard Kyle

Ian Richard Kyle Paisley (pāz´lē), 1926–, Northern Irish religious and political leader. A leading protagonist of militant Protestantism against Roman Catholicism in Northern Ireland, Paisley was ordained as a Protestant minister in 1946. In 1951 he helped found the fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, noted for its virulent antiecumenism. In the late 1960s he led numerous anti-Catholic marches, and he was jailed in 1966 and again in 1969 for heading demonstrations that ended in rioting. Running on a platform to end all reforms intended to help the Catholic minority, he was elected to the Northern Irish Parliament (1970–72), and to the British House of Commons (1970–2010).

In 1971, Paisley founded the Democratic Unionist party, which supports total integration of Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom. He supported a strike by Protestant workers that brought the collapse (1974) of the new coalition executive council and the reimposition of direct British rule. In 1985 he accused British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of treachery when she signed the Anglo-Irish accord, giving Ireland consultative rights in the government of Northern Ireland, and he opposed the 1998 Northern Irish peace accord, which allowed Sinn Féin to participate in the Northern Irish government.

Paisley was elected to the Northern Irish assembly in 1999, and his party won a plurality of seats in that body in 2003 and 2007. Following the 2007 elections, Paisley agreed to enter a power-sharing government with Sinn Féin, which had become the largest Catholic party in the assembly; Paisley became first minister. He retired as first minister and party leader in 2008, and was created Baron Bannside in 2010.

See biographies by E. Moloney and A. Pollak (1986) and C. Smyth (1987).

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