WE ASKED Ian Paisley, an extremist Protestant member of the British Parliament from Northern Ireland, if he would like to say in print what he might have said in this country in person had the State Department not denied him a visa last month. Mr. Paisley replied that he would, and his remarks appear on the op-ed page today. It is shameful that the State Department, which had earlier--and equally wrongheadedly--barred one of Ulster's extremist Catholic MPs, bowed to congressional pressure and barred Mr. Paisley as well. Having offered him a forum, however, we feel no compunction whatever in adding this: what he says is, in the main, absolutely wrong.
To give him his due, Mr. Paisley has one fair point, beyond his complaint about being barred--a pity, by the way, that he does not also protest denial of a visa to his fellow MP. He says that "IRA-linked" organizations in America have funded IRA terror. This is true. Despite efforts by police and Irish American leaders to halt the flow, funds and in some cases actual arms have been obtained here. Officials of the Republic of Ireland in the south say flatly that Irish Americans, often unwittingly, provide more support for IRA terror than does the Communist-connected international terror apparatus on the left. If Mr. Paisley's taunt provokes greater American vigilance on this score, so much the better.
His political views, however, are something else again. Mr. Paisley makes much of the determination of Ulster's Protestant majority to hold to union with Britain. He utterly ignores his community's role in systematically discriminating against Ulster's Catholic minority over the decades and thereby bringing the whole pot to a boil. He ignores as well the terror emanating from the Protestant side. No single person has done more to undermine would-be moderates in Northern Ireland, Protestant as well as Catholic, and to nullify attempts by Britain--another is currently in train--to find a path of compromise through the bullets and the bombs.
Mr. Paisley's talent at playing on the civil libertarian sympathies of Americans is there in his piece for all to see. What is not there to see is the political vision and courage that are the necessary ingredients of any turn toward peace with justice in Northern Ireland for all its citizens.