The DUP MP Ian Paisley has doubled down on an absurd remark in which he compared the Nazi Holocaust to the actions of the “Catholic IRA”.
He compared the IRA’s armed struggle to “genocides around the world”. because he said the IRA’s targets were “almost exclusively Protestant”.
He made the remarks at the London parliament’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
In fact, the founders of the republican tradition, the United Irishmen, were Protestants, while the Catholic church hierarchy has often been a severe critic of the IRA.
Throughout the history of the IRA, Volunteers came from a Protestant background to join the fight against British rule, including Seán Mac Stíofáin, Victor Fagg, Harry Murray and Ronnie Bunting. A number of Protestants were interned in 1971 on suspicion of IRA involvement.
The British Crown Forces in Ireland have always been mainly Protestant, but the republican struggle has never been influenced by the fact, and Catholic members of these forces have been equally targeted.
Previous arguments that the IRA is anti-Protestant have been used by unionists to style themselves as victims of a sectarian conflict, rather than caught in a post-colonial fight for freedom.
Committee chair, Tory Simon Hoare, himself a practising Catholic, told Paisley the remarks were not “conducive to moving things forward”.
Alliance MP Mr Farry asked to be disassociated from them, and described them as “both offensive and inaccurate”.
SDLP MP Claire Hanna, also on the committee, said the comments were “calculated and crass”. She urged the DUP leadership to intervene and not “allow him to shred relationships between our communities”.
Sinn Fein did not comment, but despite the criticism, Paisley continued his screed.
“The IRA is/was a sectarian murder machine” he declared later. “Its ‘sect’ identity background is/was RC [Roman Catholic].
“Are my critics really trying to sustain a position that the IRA was a non-denominational and non-sectarian and egalitarian organisation? I am afraid the uncomfortable truth of my comments are a fact.”