Ian Paisley Admits: I'm a Big Fan of Saint Patrick; DUP LEADER WOULD HAVE BEEN FOLLOWER

Article excerpt

Byline: DONNA CARTON

SAINT Patrick, that global symbol of Irishness, has a surprising admirer - firebrand DUP chief Dr Ian Paisley.

And Mr Paisley, the founder of the Free Presbyterian Church, even went a step further in his praise: "If St Patrick were here today, I would be one with him. I would be happy to walk after him.

"He could take the stick and I would fight his corner."

The big man described Patrick as a "real man with fears and difficulties and opposition".

Dr Paisley said he had an affinity to St Pat's faith "which is grounded in the word of God. His references are the quintessence of the Bible".

He described Patrick, a Sixth Century missionary, as "a real man, inspired by God, with the Gospel burning in his heart.

Mr Paisley said St Patrick was of the view. "I don't care what people say about me, I will preach this message".

He added: "I think Patrick should be owned by every-one. Everyone can learn from him."

That Mr Paisley is a huge Saint Paddy fan, is just one of a number of revelations and surprises in BBC Northern Ireland's prog-ramme You Thought You Knew - Saint Patrick which is due to be broadcast next week.

In it, presenter Jim McDowell goes in search of the real Patrick in a bid to separate fact from fiction.

He tells the myths and legends and attempts to discover how they came about and why people created them.

The programme has been created with the help of archaeologist Richard Warner, of the Ulster Museum, historian Tim O'Loughlin and Tim Campbell of the St Patrick Centre, Downpatrick.

Together they work out how a young Roman Briton missionary, by the name of Patricius, became linked with the shamrock, cloaked in green and the star of the greatest annual street parties in the world. …