Republic was to blame for bombs carnage in 1974, declares Ian Paisley
IAN Paisley has effectively accused the then Irish government of provoking the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which claimed the lives of 33 people.
The 87-year-old former Democratic Unionist Party leader declared: "They brought that on themselves" as he revisited the standout moments of his political career for a new documentary on his life.
He said he had been very much shocked by the bombings, which are still the subject of controversy. However, he then continued: "But I mean who brought that on them? -- themselves.
"It was their own political leaders, who they had endorsed in their attitude to Northern Ireland. At that time the attitude of the southern government was ridiculous."
He also described the republican mortar bomb attack which almost killed British prime minister John Major and cabinet ministers in 1991 as "a cracker for the IRA".
In a series of farewell interviews which were full of surprises, Rev Paisley also said that he had been angered by the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972, when paratroopers shot civilians who, he said, had been protesting within the law. He had been further angered by attempts at a cover-up and was glad to hear the current British prime minister David Cameron eventually "telling the truth".
In the 40 hours of interviews conducted by veteran Belfast broadcaster Eamonn Mallie, Mr Paisley also caused amazement by conceding that many of the grievances of the 1960s nationalist civil rights movement were justified.
This represents a stunning turnaround for a figure who took to the streets to confront the movement, which he at the time denounced as anti-British, anti-Protestant and as being mostly a front for the IRA.
But today he says the then unionist government was unfair and unjust in refusing to grant the central civil rights demand of one man, one vote. This was unfair, he said forcefully.
"The whole system was wrong," he declared in his interviews. "It wasn't one man, one vote. A fair government is that every man has the same power to vote for what he wants."
He said the system "was not acceptable, not acceptable at all, it wasn't justice at all".
Dr Paisley continued: "Those that put their hands to that have to carry some of the blunt and blame for what has happened in our country.
"If you vote down democracy you're responsible for bringing in anarchy. And they brought in anarchy and they set family against family and friend against friend. It was bad for everybody."
He insisted, however, that none of this justified the violence of the Troubles, emphasising: "I don't believe in killing and never have."
Although he has moderated his views on some issues, he did not deviate from his strongly fundamentalist attitudes.
Mr Mallie put it to him that he had once accused the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, who had an audience with the Pope, of "committing spiritual fornication with the Antichrist."
Dr Paisley responded: "That was the language of Luther and Calvin and Protestantism and I have no apology to make for being a Protestant."
He stuck to his statement that he was anti-Catholic but said: "I love the poor dupes who are ground down under that system."
He would not accept that any of his controversial statements over the years had been provocative or that they had made the Troubles worse.
Dr Paisley's remarks came in the series of interviews to be broadcast by the BBC from next Monday.
In recent years, Dr Paisley has stepped down from the post of Northern Ireland's first minister and from the leadership of the Free Presbyterian church which he headed for decades.
He is currently in hospital for tests but in the lengthy interviews he showed no sign of any mental deterioration.