Ian Paisley criticised for ‘intemperate tone’ in attack on Bishop Daly

Northern Ireland files from 1985 show Douglas Hurd regretted Paisley’s manner

Ian Paisley was rebuked by the Northern Ireland secretary Douglas Hurd at a face- to- face meeting in 1984 for a bitter tirade Paisley had made against Bishop (later Cardinal) Cahal B Daly. The incident is minuted in previously confidential files released in Belfast.

The clash occurred at a meeting between Paisley,  then Democratic Unionist Party leader, his deputy Peter Robinson and Mr Hurd at Stormont House on November 29th, 1984.

Referring to UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's recent "out, out, out" response to the Report of the New Ireland Forum, the secretary of state said he was "rather dismayed by the triumphalism of Unionist reaction so far". He regretted the tone of Dr Paisley's attack on Bishop Cahal Daly as "the black Pope of the Republican movement".

Hurd felt that the “intemperate tone of Dr Paisley’s attack sat oddly with his professed readiness to have constructive discussion with other party leaders”.


Responding, the DUP leader said that Bishop Daly’s statements were deeply offensive.

“For example, the Bishop had said that the British handling of the [ANGLO-IRISH]Summit had played into the hands of the IRA and that RC’s had no rights or justice in Northern Ireland.

“The Bishop had also asserted that the British had no more right to a presence in Northern Ireland than the government of the Republic.”

This went to the very quick of the issue and Dr Paisley thought it right to reject robustly such views.

As to possible political talks, Dr Paisley said he had urged the SDLP leader John Hume to start talking with other political leaders.

Hume had said he must wait for the results of the recent Anglo-Irish Summit. After the Summit, Dr Paisley said he had not made any triumphalist statements.

He had had a long conversation with Hume on November 23rd and had told him that he was ready to discuss with him outside the Assembly how a way forward might be found.

The SDLP leader had agreed to this but said he must first discuss matters with the Irish Government.

For his part, Mr Robinson said that these were “difficult days for the SDLP”. There were rumours that they might resign their Assembly seats (which they had never taken) en bloc.

Responding, Hurd warned that it was inconceivable that the Stormont Assembly should go on indefinitely if its activity was restricted to a scrutinising role only but Dr Paisley warned that they would take their politics to the streets if the Assembly was not available.