Dublin provoked 1974 UVF Dublin and Monaghan bombings - Paisley

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley

The Rev Ian Paisley has effectively accused the Irish Government of provoking the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings which claimed the lives of 33 people.

He declared: “The political leaders brought it on themselves.”

The UVF set off the two car bombs in the Republic at the height of a violent loyalist strike across Northern Ireland by the so-called Ulster Workers Council which ended with the collapse of the first power sharing executive in Belfast 40 years ago.

Mr Paisley and his then hard-line DUP supported the stoppage, which had the backing of thousands of members of the UDA.

It brought the country to a virtual standstill in protest against the formation of a coalition of unionist and nationalist ministers based at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

No one has ever been charged with the atrocities, although there have been persistent accusations that rogue members of the RUC colluded with the bombers.

Mr Paisley, 87, said he was shocked.

In the first of a major two- part television documentary on his life he said: “I was very much shocked that there was anyone going to be hurt in that way.

“But I mean, who brought that on themselves was the people that, their own political leaders, and they had endorsed in what their attitude to Northern Ireland, and at that time the attitude of the south government in Northern Ireland was ridiculous, so it was.”

He insisted the killings were not justified. He never believed in killing.

He told journalist Eamonn Mallie: “I not only had nothing to do with it, but I’d said I had nothing to do with it and denounced the people who had done it... What more could I do?”

The former MP for North Antrim, who quit as DUP leader in 2008, added: “I took my stand. I denounced what was wrong, but I could not say to the people: ‘Just sit down and let them put a rope round your neck’.”

Mr Paisley, who once vowed he would never share power with Sinn Fein, but who spent over a year at Stormont as Northern Ireland First Minister working with Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister and former IRA leader, stepped down from politics in May 2008, just weeks after he resigned as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church which he founded.

His long-time deputy party leader Peter Robinson took over as First Minister.

l Paisley: Genesis To Revelation – Face To Face With Eamonn Mallie, BBC1 Northern Ireland, Monday, 10.30pm.