Ian Paisley had very long history of protesting, and Orange Order may follow suit if Pope visits in 2018

Dear Sir,

I was intrigued by the comments of your Religion Correspondent (B.T. 10 December).

Alf McCreary stated:

“People forget that Paisley led a demonstration outside Church House in Belfast when the former Moderator the Reverend Dr Ken Newell invited the then Roman Catholic Primate Cardinal Sean Brady as his personal guest at the opening night of the Presbyterian General Assembly”.

This however was not a one-off event for Ian Paisley. He and his supporters constantly protested outside Church House on the opening night of the General Assembly. The most shameful occasion, in the minds of many, was when his supporters attacked the Governor and Lady Erskine with foul abuse and insulting language. Lady Erskine left Northern Ireland soon afterwards and Her Majesties representative resigned and returned to Scotland.

Your Correspondent also stated: “I believe that the term “‘Free’ Presbyterian Church is a mis-nomer.” But surely the term ‘Presbyterian’ is also a misnomer in this context, considering that

“The Free Presbyterian Church” do not accept the Westminster Confession of Faith’s position on paedobaptism.  Paisley’s almost consistent occupation of the Moderator’s Chair (Sydney Lince served as Moderator of the new church for a few months), are not in keeping with the Presbyterian tradition. Paisley was not a Presbyterian either by conviction or by convention, but merely used it as a convenient title to poach members.

I was also intrigued by Alf’s comment: “Ian Paisley also took part in protests against the visit of Pope Benedict to the United Kingdom.”  He was of course not alone in vocalising opposition to such a visit.

On 24 March 2010 the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland issued a statement which included the following:

“We therefore call on all the citizens of the United Kingdom, and especially members of the Loyal Orange Institution, to demonstrate their opposition to the Pope’s visit to England and Scotland, and to oppose any future invitation to visit Northern Ireland.”

One wonders if the recent meeting of the Grand Lodge decided to be true to their word and organise demonstrations  to oppose the proposed visit Armagh!

Yours etc.

Brian Kennaway, Presbyterian Minister (Retired)

This letter was published in the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday 13 December 2016