Eileen Paisley: I would not reject a gay grandchild, love is bigger than that

Eamonn Mallie quizzing Eileen Paisley for the show 'Eamonn Mallie Face to Face With Eileen Paisley'
Eamonn Mallie quizzing Eileen Paisley for the show 'Eamonn Mallie Face to Face With Eileen Paisley'

Baroness Paisley has said that she would not stop loving any of her grandchildren if they turned out to be gay.

Eileen Paisley, widow of Rev Ian Paisley, made the remarks in an interview with veteran journalist Eamonn Mallie.

She was quizzed by him as part of a wide-ranging one-on-one discussion to be broadcast on Tuesday.

The broadcaster noted how strident Rev Paisley had been on homosexuality, and asked if she could “cope” if a child or grandchild of hers turned out to be gay.

She said: “If that happened, they’re still my children. I couldn’t stop loving them because of what they’d done – and I wouldn’t stop loving them. People used to ask me ‘what would you do if one of your children married a Catholic’.

“I’d still love them, and I’d love their partner as well. Life’s bigger than that, and love’s bigger than that. Whenever you think of the sins Christ covered whenever he went to Calvary for us, I mean that’s beyond description.

“And as a person who claims to be a follower of Christa and a lover of Christ, I have to do the same practically in my daily life.”

Baroness Paisley and her husband have five children in all – Ian Junior, Kyle, and daughters Rhonda, Sharon and Cherith, plus 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Asked by Eamon Mallie if she would “tolerate” a family member if they wanted to marry their same-sex boyfriend, she said: “I’d certainly have to tolerate it.

“I’d just say: You’re doing what I totally disagree with, and you’re disobeying the Word of God – but at the same time, my love for you as a parent, I can’t forget you.”

She added: “I love all my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. And I couldn’t turn them away, because it wouldn’t be right.

“The Bible goes over a whole list of some of these things and says: such were some of you, but you have been washed, you have been cleansed through the Word I have spoken unto you.

“And that’s God saying that. And if He can say that, who am I to say ‘I don’t want you’?”

A former MLA in the old Stormont parliament of the 1970s, and later a member of the House of Lords, the baroness also spoke during the interviewof her feelings about her son Ian Paisley Junior.

It centred on his recent suspension from Parliament for failing to declare holidays to Sri Lanka, paid for by the country’s government. After the holidays, he went on to lobby for that government (which has been accused of humanitarian abuses).

“When your child hurts you, they do hurt you... when you do wrong you have to be punished.”

She said “Ian did wrong” and “took the punishment for it” – which she regarded as “very severe”.

“You can’t go on beating a dog when it’s down,” she said.

Formerly called Miss Cassells, she married Ian in 1956, and she told Mr Mallie of her early encounters with her husband-to-be, saying he was “very romantic” .

She also spoke during the interview about their split with Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, where he ministered for over four decades. She said he never took a salary from the church in 41 years, and spoke of her wrangles with the church over the property they had lived in.

The full interview is broadcast on Tuesday on UTV at 10.45pm.