Lord Kilclooney has rejected criticism from Ian Paisley that those who oversaw local government in the early Seventies bore some responsibility for the Troubles.
The former UUP deputy leader, now a cross-bench peer, was Minister of State for Home Affairs in Northern Ireland from 1970-72.
Speaking in a BBC documentary by Eamonn Mallie broadcast last night, Dr Paisley was asked to speak about allegations of housing discrimination against Catholics before the formation of the civil rights movement.
“No, it wasn’t fair,” Dr Paisley said. “A fair government is that every man has the same power to vote for what he wants.
“No, it wasn’t justice at all ... those that put their hands to that were, have to carry some of the blunt, and blame, for what happened in our country.”
Yesterday, Lord Kilclooney told the News Letter that he thought the former First Minister was “being forgetful”.
“There was one man one vote for all elections except council elections,” he said. “It was one man one vote for Stormont and Westminster elections.
“He is wrong to imply otherwise. Local government were restricted to votes for ratepayers because they financed it.
“But this did not come from Stormont, it came from 1921 legislation from the Westminster Government.
“So he is very unfair and he is not correct in alleging things against the Stormont Government.”
Yesterday, Lord Kilclooney gave an insight into fears at the time that the Irish army was about to invade south Armagh.
“I think he [Dr Paisley] did say the Republic was responsible for provoking the Monaghan-Dublin bombings.
“I was Minister of State for Home Affairs when [Taoiseach] Mr [Jack] Lynch came up to the border and in a statement said ‘We will not stand idly by...’.
“That really created a tremendous crisis in Northern Ireland and a very strong reaction in the unionist community.
“Clearly we were very concerned the Irish army was about to invade Newry and south Armagh.
“I was summonsed to see the Prime Minister James Chichester Clarke. He sent me to RUC headquarters at Knock and I stayed there all day with Chief Constable [Graham] Shillington to keep the Prime Minister advised on whether there was any sign of movement by Irish troops.
“So the statements incensed the situation.”
The peer agreed with Dr Paisley’s welcome for the Prime Minister’s apology for Bloody Sunday, after the Saville report was published.
‘Adams will not do a confession’
“The difference between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams is there will be no confession from Gerry Adams,” Lord Kilclooney told the News Letter.
He added: “He [Paisley] was more interested in religion than politics. He was first and foremost a Christian preacher and always put religion first and politics second.
“But Gerry Adams was very much a politician who many people believe was in the IRA, though he himself always denied it.”
Following last night’s TV show, a second instalment of Paisley: Genesis to Revelation will be broadcast on BBC1 next week.