Northern Ireland

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons speaks of `legendary' Ian Paisley Sr and 'what he did for Ireland'

Kiss star Gene Simmons was making his first trip to the Commons chamber (Katja Ogrin/PA)
Kiss star Gene Simmons was making his first trip to the Commons chamber (Katja Ogrin/PA) Kiss star Gene Simmons was making his first trip to the Commons chamber (Katja Ogrin/PA)

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons has caused a social media storm for his comments about Ian Paisley Sr and "what he did for Ireland".

The veteran rock star also called for the restoration of the Stormont assembly during a surprise visit to Westminster.during a surprise visit to Westminster.

In a bizarre turn of events, Simmons was invited to the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday by the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jr.

Afterwards, he called for the return of Stormont and spoke of Mr Paisley’s father, “legendary Ian senior and what he did for Ireland”.

While MPs queued up for their rockstar selfies in Westminster, bemused politicians and commentators elsewhere were quick to give their own take.

Columnist Alex Kane said: “Gene Simmons comes to Commons as guest of Ian and in a later interview says devolution needs to be restored. A case of kiss and tell them what to do.”

The SDLP MLA and leader of Stormont’s opposition, Matthew O’Toole, posted: “Attention seeking performer in an ageing troupe that shocked audiences in the 70s and 80s, but now mostly bores them, meets guy from Kiss.”

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His party colleague and South Belfast MP, Claire Hanna, reacted to his calls to restore Stormont by simply stating: “Chef’s Kiss.”

Summing the strangeness of it all, the broadcaster Jeremy Vine added: “I thought I’d imagined this.”

Also known by his stage name of ‘The Demon,’ the 73-year-old said his unlikely connection with Mr Paisley came through a crew member.

“I guess he was a big fan or something. I had known about his father of course, legendary Ian senior with what he did for Ireland,” he told the BBC after the visit.

“Anyway, he invited me to come and visit him at the House of Commons.”

With flight restrictions in place for a visit from Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Simmons said a quick call from Mr Paisley meant the Kiss private jet was the only one allowed to land near London.

"And so it was, we landed and I was grateful of course. Early morning today, I went down to the House of Commons and met Ian and everybody," he said.

“It was actually quite an amazing day. The history and you know the hallowed halls of democracy and all that was very inspiring.”

Perhaps going off script from DUP policy, he also called for the Stormont Assembly to be restored without delay.

“It’s important for that to happen because the people's business needs to get done. Northern Ireland is just as important as any country on the face of the planet,” he said.

“People have their lives to lead and it’s the government’s job to take care of peoples’ needs.

“So, I hope everything gets back in order in Northern Ireland and the peoples’ business should be done by their elected officials.”

For Mr Paisley, this is also not his first headline-grabbing moment with a rockstar.

In June 2021, he was called up on stage in Belfast’s Europa Hotel by the singer Van Morrison who led him in a chant that was critical of then Health Minister Robin Swann over Covid restrictions.

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Van Morrison joined on stage by Ian Paisley for chant against Health Minister Robin Swann