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I was forced out of party and church, says ex-DUP leader

24 January 2014


Early days: the Revd Ian Paisley gives the opening address from the pulpit of his new church, the Martyrs Memorial Church, in October, 1969

Early days: the Revd Ian Paisley gives the opening address from the pulpit of his new church, the...

THE founder and former Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, Lord Bannside, the retired First Minister the Revd Ian Paisley, said on Monday that he had been forced out of the Martyrs' Memorial church he had founded on Raven Hill Road, Belfast, and had had to stop preaching there.

In the second of two BBC TV interviews, he said that he had been deeply hurt by the actions of some elders in the church, believed to be due to his decision as First Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly to share power with Sinn Fein. He left the church in 2008 after more than 60 years of ministry.

Lord Bannside suffered serious cardiac illness afterwards, attributed by his wife, Baroness Paisley, to the trauma surrounding his departure from the church. "I believe, and I am going to say this, I believe it was the heartbreak that made him ill, took a toll on his health," she said.

"Our hearts were all broken for Ian. I felt he had been deeply wounded in the house of his friends. I just felt it was really iniquitous, a really dreadful, hurtful, nasty, ungodly, unchristian thing to do."

Lord Bannside told the reporter Eamonn Mallie that the family did not go to the church any more. "You don't go to a church to sit on nails, you go to a church to sit in a place where there is rest and peace," he said.

Lord Bannside also alleged that two DUP colleagues, Peter Robinson (now First Minister) and Nigel Dodds, among others, conspired to force him out of his leadership and that of the DUP. He acquiesced in order not to cause a rift in the party, he said.

His former long-time association with Mr Robinson is now at an end. "His ways are not my ways. He has to answer for how he works."

On Tuesday, the DUP leadership issueda strong rebuttal of Lord Bannside's comments, and said that the Party was "saddened" to see Lord Bannside "harm his legacy", and suggested that he was no longer able to cope with the job.

"In his later years as party leader many colleagues shielded his frailty from public view to avoid embarrassment and protect his legacy," a spokesman for the DUP said after the airing of the programme. "Those people are hurt by untrue and bitter comments contained in the documentary."

Lord Bannside, who is 87, is not expected to give any further interviews.

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