Time for unionists to tell the truth about IRA cleansing

Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein and DUP MP Ian Paisley on the BBC programme The View, discussing Martin McGuinness
Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein and DUP MP Ian Paisley on the BBC programme The View, discussing Martin McGuinness

The comments of Ian Paisley Jr as regards Martin McGuinness have been met with disgust and anger by many in the broad unionist family.

The reasons for his fawning remarks are questionable; did he seriously mean them or is he preparing for a post-Arlene scenario. Either way he has totally underestimated the shock and hurt caused by his remarks.

Martin McGuinness was a brigade commander of the IRA at 23. To get to that position he was undoubtedly a hands-on activist.

Ian Paisley Jr may forgive him for his past but many remember the sectarian ethnic cleansing campaign against the Protestant people in the cityside of Londonderry during the seventies.

This happened during McGuinness’s tenure as IRA commander when almost 15,000 Protestants were forced by many methods, including murder and bombings, from their homes.

This highly successful, and for years unacknowledged campaign, was the largest population movement (pro rata) since the second World War.

Yet Ian Paisley Jr says we must move on, that we must stretch out our hand in peace.

My Apprentice Boy colleagues in Londonderry are aghast at his comments, but then they are among the many that suffered.

Perhaps they see through the cunning and charm that so eluded Ian Paisley Jr and his late father.

It is time for many unionist elected representatives to remove their rose-tinted glasses and tell the truth.

Russell Watton, Councillor, East Londonderry Progressive Unionist Party