The prospect of Irish unity has been voiced by Kyle Paisley, son of the late firebrand Ian Paisley who once threatened to fight to the death if he and his followers were forced into a united Ireland.
Kyle Paisley, a Free Presbyterian minister in the church established by his father, and a twin brother of MP Ian Paisley Jr., said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cannot be trusted with handling Northern Ireland affairs.
Kyle, a guest on The Irish Times’ Borderlines podcast, said Brexit had been badly handled and that had given encouragement to republicans and nationalists who wanted a united Ireland.
He said, “I think the impetus of republicans has certainly grown and they must be sitting back rubbing their hands with glee to see things in such disarray.”
It seemed as though republicans were on the cusp of something that they sought for decades, he said, and the disarray in unionist ranks had also contributed to that.
He added, “I don’t think the prime minister in Britain is going to make any change. I wouldn’t trust him at all with handling Northern Ireland affairs.
“I think if he could do what Edward Heath was supposed to have said once – I think if he could tow Northern Ireland into the middle of the Atlantic and sink it, he would do it.”
The drive to seek a united Ireland had intensified, and it was fueled by uncertainty over Brexit. Only a fool would put his money on there never being a united Ireland, Paisley said.
He continued, “There’s certainly more chance of it perhaps now, because of the way things are, than there was even 10 years ago.”
Paisley, who described himself as Ulster, Irish and British, noted that Northern Ireland came through a cruel period of trouble with its own government where it could rule itself and be a bit independent and not have the same input from Britain.
He asked, “Are we going to throw that away after 25 years? I think everything should be done if possible by all parties to save Stormont if they can. Hopefully, it is savable.”
Paisley’s father, the founder of the Democratic Unionist Party, died in September 2014. He warned at a rally in Larne in 1986 during a campaign against the Anglo-Irish Agreement, “If the British government force us down the road to a united Ireland we will fight to the death...This could come to hand-to-hand fighting in every street in Northern Ireland...We are on the verge of civil war...We are asking people to be ready for the worst and I will lead them.”
*This column first appeared in the February 2 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.