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1986: Ian Paisley's battle cry condemned

VIDEO : Paisley's anger boils over

Hard-line unionist leader the Reverend Ian Paisley has warned that Northern Ireland is on the verge of civil war.

In an outburst strongly criticised by government ministers, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party called on Protestants in the province to mobilise for action.

The appeal came after he was forcibly carried out from the Assembly building by police.

Dr Paisley and party colleagues had been carrying out a sit-in protest against the dissolution of the Assembly, while their supporters clashed with police outside.

An attempt to storm the doors with batons and shields was beaten off by the authorities. There were several injuries and a number of arrests.

"You will reap what you sow"

Reverend Ian Paisley

After accusing some of the police officers of mistreating him, Reverend Paisley shouted: "Don't come crying to me if your homes are attacked. You will reap what you sow".

He said the closure of the Assembly meant democracy in the province was "dead," and called for a "show of force" by Protestants.

"This could come to hand-to-hand fighting in every street in Northern Ireland," he said.

"We're on the verge of civil war in Northern Ireland. Why? Because if you take away the forums of democracy you don't have anything left."

Dr Paisley's comments were condemned by ministers in London.

Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King said: "If there were to be serious attempts to stir up disorder that would be the most disastrous thing that anyone could do for the province. It would do quite enormous damage."

Reacting to Dr Paisley's "explicit attacks" against police, Minister Nicholas Scott said: "I've heard him say many disgraceful things in my life but that's one of the most disgraceful I've heard him say."

The police, he said, were "simply doing the job of maintaining the Queen's peace and to threaten in that way I think is utterly disgraceful".

Hard-line Protestants are frustrated their attempts to ruin the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which formalises closer co-operation between the UK and the Irish Republic, have so far failed.

In Context
Ian Paisley has stood in the way of every political initiative to bring power-sharing to Northern Ireland for the past 30 years.

His mixture of politics and religion has inspired loyalty from his supporters and loathing from his detractors.

The Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald at Hillsborough Castle on 15 November 1985.

Unionists were vehemently opposed to the Agreement, resenting the involvement of the Republic's government in the affairs of Northern Ireland.

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