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He’s the son of a preacher man
His father, the Rev. Ian Paisley, has been one of the dominant figures in Irish politics over the past 40 years. Now Ian Paisley Jnr is a Junior Minister in the new Northern Ireland administration. So how different is he from his father? And how does he feel about cross border co-operation, education, abortion and homosexuality?
Jason O'Toole, 11 Jun 2007
Ian Paisley Jnr. – sometimes nicknamed “Baby Doc” or “Ian Óg” – is adamant that he is not a political clone of his controversial father. But while Ian Jnr. likes to insist that he is his own man, there is no denying that his political ideology and religious views have been shaped by his father.
In 1971, the founder of the Free Presbyterian Church Ian Paisley Snr. established the Democratic Unionist Party. The party was originally set up to oppose constitutional arrangements for a new assembly and power-sharing between Protestants and Catholics. Ironically, the DUP is now the largest party in the recently elected Assembly, Paisley Snr. is now its First Minister – and he is sharing power with his erstwhile mortal enemies Sinn Féin.
In the late 1970s, Rev. Ian Paisley launched a campaign entitled “Save Ulster From Sodomy” and it appears to be a crusade that his son would be quite happy to champion today.
In 2005, having discovered that David Trimble’s political advisor, Steven King, had married his boyfriend in Canada, Paisley Jnr. was reported as saying: “It is really astounding that David Trimble should have had a man such as this giving him advice... I think these sorts of relationships are immoral, offensive and obnoxious”. In response, the Northern Ireland gay men’s advocacy organisation, ‘The Rainbow Project’, called for Paisley Jnr. to be sacked from his position on the Policing Board.
Born in 1966, Paisley Jnr. studied history and Irish politics at Queen’s University. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, for the constituency of North Antrim, in 1996. He is his party’s justice spokesperson, as well as a Junior Minister in the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
Paisley Jnr., who is married with four children, was awarded the Royal Humane Society award for bravery in 1999, after helping to rescue a drowning child.
Jason O'Toole: Was it difficult growing up with the Rev. Ian Paisley as your father?
Ian Paisley Jnr: I never really had anything to compare it to. The year I was born my father had just come out of jail. When I was four he was back in jail. He was always controversial. It wasn’t as if, for instance, I was able to live through my teenage years and then suddenly my father became famous. So, I just accepted that was normal life and that everybody’s father was like that!