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Paisley: I called Blair a fool for turning Catholic

Ian Paisley has claimed he called Tony Blair a fool when the former British Prime Minister told him he was converting to Catholicism.

The founder of the Free Presbyterian Church and long-time critic of the papacy said Mr Blair revealed his decision to him as they left a private meeting in 2007.

"As we were walking down the stairs he stopped, he looked back at me and he said, 'Ian, there is something I need to tell you'," Stormont's former First Minister said.

"'When the hands of that clock, when they come to eight o'clock, I will be a Roman Catholic'.

"And he said, 'I didn't want you to leave without telling you, I'd rather tell you myself'.

"And I said, 'You are a fool' ,and I walked on."

In the second part of a BBC documentary reflecting on his career in politics, Dr Paisley is asked what his reaction would be if one of his own family came home with a Catholic.

"I would have bought a long cane and given him a few strokes with it," he says, laughing.

But he adds: "I would have said, 'Let us sit down and ask God his opinion on this', and I would have said, 'Although you hurt me doing what you are doing, you are my child and my love is greater than my hurt'."