Paisley criticized for ‘Catholic IRA’ comments

Posted By: January 28, 2021

 Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, January 28, 2021

Ian Paisley has been criticized at a Westminster committee for referring to the “Catholic IRA.”

The DUP MP used the phrase while questioning Secretary of State Brandon Lewis on legacy issues at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

He said: “Today is Holocaust Memorial Day where we remember victims of the Holocaust and also other genocides around the world.

“And in Northern Ireland of course we remember the border campaign and the genocide of sectarian murder where the IRA, the Catholic IRA, murdered Protestants at the border.”

The North Antrim MP went on to ask Mr. Lewis what pressure had been placed on the Irish government to move beyond “lip service” in providing information on unsolved murders “that were of British people in their jurisdiction and then dumped on our border”.

Alliance MP Stephen Farry criticized the remarks.

“I very much want to dissociate myself from the comments about the ‘Catholic IRA,’” he said.

“IRA terrorism and indeed sectarian murders were strongly condemned by the Catholic Church, it’s nothing to do with Catholicism.”

The chair of the committee, Conservative MP Simon Hoare, also expressed concern.

“I appreciate how incredibly sensitive this is and I appreciate the huge problems and the fear for their lives that the Paisley family have gone through, but as a practicing Roman Catholic myself I would also just like to note that I didn’t think the way that question was phrased was conducive to trying to move things forward,” he said.

Mr. Paisley attempted to respond to the remarks of Mr. Hoare and Mr. Farry but the chairman would not let him.

The secretary of state was facing questions on the British government’s yet to be published revised plans for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

Mr. Lewis said last year that only killings with “compelling” new evidence and a realistic prospect of prosecution will receive a full re-investigation, despite mechanism being agreed in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

Mr. Lewis said he remained confident that draft legislation, along with a plan for implementing new measures, would be published before Westminster’s summer recess.

Reacting to Mr. Paisley’s remarks last night, Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith

Begley described them as “ludicrous and deeply offensive.”
“The systematic annihilation of millions of people in death camps by the Nazis during the Second World War is unparalleled. He should withdraw these extremely crass and offensive comments.”