March 07, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Kyle Paisley

Kyle Paisley was born in Belfast in 1966. He was educated at Greenwood and Strandtown Primary schools and Shaftesbury House. Then later educated at Whitefield College of the Bible, Lawrencetown. Kyle now lives in Oulton, Suffolk. He is the minister of Oulton Broad Free Presbyterian Church.

Brian John Spencer: "When did you first learn about the Easter Rising of 1916?" Kyle Paisley:
"I first learned about the Easter Rising of 1916 from my father's political addresses and from conversations at home on matters of Irish interest. It's a few years ago now and my knowledge of this momentous period in the island's history has faded a little. I didn't learn about early 20th century Ireland in history classes at school, though I do remember covering an earlier period - the rise of the United Irishmen and Wolfe Tone. Certain quotes stand out - e.g. 'England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity'."
BJS: "Do the men, the act or the stated ideals in the proclamation mean anything to you?" KP:
"From an historical point of view they mean something, but not from a personal point of view. I mean, they are not inspirational figures for my political outlook. Still, they offer valuable insight into human nature, and are a striking example of the power of belief in a cause. I needed to do a little reading to find out about the key characters in the Rising; there's a lot to learn. 
Was interested to know of any mainland connection, especially any English connection. I learned that Thomas James Clarke, held by many to to be the person most responsible for the Rising, came from England, and that Padraig Pearse also had an English connection, his father hailing from Birmingham. 
The famous line from Pearse - "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace" - got me thinking. British Rule disappeared from the 26 counties of the Republic a long time ago, though not from the North. This makes me wonder what modern Republicans who profess to follow Pearse's ideals feel about the present situation. Is Ireland free now? There's certainly a greater measure of peace, though government in Northern Ireland is kind of quasi-British. 
The Proclamation speaks of "the long usurpation" of the right of Irish self-government "by a foreign people and power". I wonder sometimes how realistic it was to hope that centuries of history could be reversed. More idealistic than realistic, I think. Seeking change by force of arms for "the establishment of a permanent National Government" reminds me a little of the slogan "seize power with the ballot box in one hand and the armalite in the other." 
The Declaration's commitment to "universal suffrage" was in advance of British thinking at the time. You have to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Credit where credit's due is not a sign of weakness."
BJS: "When did you first learn about the Battle of the Somme?" KP:
"Can't recall. But I do remember well the annual service held at Martyrs Memorial Church in Belfast. Wreathes were laid in memory of Britain's fallen from the two World Wars. And I can remember various campaigns in those wars being mentioned in course of the sermon. As a point of interest, my paternal grandfather Rev James Kyle Paisley was a member of Lord Carson's UVF, whose membership helped form the 36th Ulster Division."
BJS: "Does this act, the men and their determination to show their loyalty to Britain mean anything to you?" KP:
"Yes. Although the Battle of the Somme brought terrible carnage, the fact that men were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for what they believed to be right, and fight against a proud and bloody aggressor, is, I believe, something to be grateful for. I can only admire those who so value freedom and have so mastered their fear that they are prepared to lay down their life for it."
BJS: "As a (British/Irish/Northern Irish*) person, is the 1916 Rising important to you and your sense of identity and sense of belonging on this island?" KP:
"No. As a Northern Irish person, I don't believe the 1916 Rising defines me. That's not to say that it doesn't affect me or that it has nothing to teach me."
BJS: "Will you be commemorating or celebrating either of these two events in April and July of this year respectively?" KP:
"No. I have no personal plans in respect of commemorating either, though I have thought about writing on both. It's just a thought at present."
BJS: "As a person on (or from) the island are you happy with the where we are now at in terms of culture, cosmopolitanism and broad-mindedness?" KP:
"I think political progress in recent years should be welcomed by all. The bringing together in government of what is commonly called "the two extremes" has gone some way to create the kind of atmosphere necessary to a general tolerance. People seem more willing to listen to    points of view foreign to them, though I don't think anyone expects uniformity, or that people should be mute about their convictions. 
It does concern me to hear about ongoing racial abuse in Northern Ireland. It sours the atmosphere."
BJS: "What are your hopes for the future of this divided province and island?" KP:
"Apart from the desire to see increased political stability in Ulster and in the Republic, my greater concern is see the reconciliation which I believe only the Gospel can bring about. When a man's relationship with his Maker is properly addressed I think this will make for a stronger peace with his fellow-man."

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