Paisley said British tried to 'buy off IRA'


DUP leader: The DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, accused the British Labour government of Harold Wilson of trying to "buy off the IRA" at a meeting with Sir Frank Cooper, permanent under secretary of the NIO at Stormont, on December 20th, 1974. This followed the IRA's announcement of a temporary ceasefire after the Feakle talks with Protestant clerics that month.

According to a note by Cooper during a discussion on the forthcoming convention: "Dr Paisley interrupted fiercely and said that the British government was trying to buy peace with the IRA at the expense of the Protestants. They are trying to withdraw from Northern Ireland and, at the same time, are anxious to buy peace with the minority.

"The British government was so hypocritical that it was impossible to trust them and Dr Paisley and his friends would not engage in any talks at the behest of the secretary of state [Merlyn Rees]."

Sir Frank replied that these were political arguments and thus not for him. Dr Paisley went on to say that the length of the convention depended on the attitude of the SDLP. If that party were willing to abandon power-sharing and the Irish dimension, he and his colleagues would be ready to make "substantial concessions - very large concessions". If the SDLP proved obstructive, however, then the convention would end very quickly, Dr Paisley declared.

At a meeting with Stormont officials on December 23rd, Dr Paisley said he and his colleagues favoured former DUP Stormont MP Desmond Boal as convention chairman. He had floated the idea with the SDLP which he said would not oppose Mr Boal.

Dr Paisley said he hoped there was no question of the appointment of an Englishman.